The recommendation from the Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia is starting a baby on solids from 6 months, with breast milk still being the most important part of your baby’s diet.
Introducing solids to your baby’s diet after 6 months of age ensures your baby receives all the essential vitamins and minerals needed to develop into a healthy child. Whilst feeding baby solids can feel like a complicated next step, a few key principles will make the transition much more efficient and hassle free:
- Always offer food after a breastfeed.
- Start with low-allergenic foods such as single grain baby cereals, then follow with pureed vegetables and meats.
- Add only one food at a time and wait several days before starting a new food.
- Start with one to two teaspoons of pureed food and gradually increase the amount to two or three teaspoons up to three times a day or at your baby’s own pace.
- Once your baby is eating pureed fruits, vegetables and baby rice cereal well, start to introduce foods with a higher protein and iron content and a thicker texture, i.e. minced and mashed with a lumpy texture. Examples are well cooked meats and poultry, baked beans, wheat based cereals, cous cous, pasta, bread/toast etc
- Try to include 2 – 3 different choices at each meal. If you offer each food separately and not mixed together, your child will develop food tastes and preferences.
- When your baby is eating lumpy foods and textures well (usually around 9-10months) they can start to chew on finely chopped soft foods. This will help them practice chewing and biting which helps develop their speech.
- Always supervise your child when starting solids for the first time, especially when introducing a new food or texture. Make sure your child is sitting upright in a secure chair.
- This is usually a good time (9-10months) to introduce finger foods such as pieces of well cooked fruits and vegetables like pear, apple, pumpkin, carrot etc. Thin strips of chicken or ham, bread and dry toast rusks, cooked pasta, pieces of soft raw fruit like banana and peach.
- AVOID – raw or undercooked pieces of fruit or vegetables, small hard foods like popcorn and lollies and whole nuts, as all these foods are potential choking hazards.
- Always wash hands and feeding utensils and use safe hygiene practices.
Source: Australian Government Department of Health