Starting Solids

Introducing solids is a lot of fun and mess.   

You can start introducing solids from 4 months of age if your baby is showing signs of being ready. This varies between babies, but is usually around 6 months. It is not recommended to start before 4 months of age.  

Some things a baby might do to show their interest in food include looking at or reaching for someones food, and opening their mouth when they see food. If this is happening; and your baby can sit upright well and wont poke their tongue out when something is put into their mouth – then it might be the right time for solids!  /

As babies get older, they need solid food to get enough nutrients for growth and development. These essential nutrients include iron, zinc and others.  Introducing solids is also important for helping babies learn to eat, giving them experience of new tastes and textures from a range of foods. It develops their teeth and jaws, and it builds other skills that they’ll need later for language development.  

Start slow, and progress through foods. Keep in mind that milk is still the priority for your baby’s nutrition. When you start introducing solids, breastmilk or infant formula should still be the main source of your baby’s nutrition. Over the next few months, your baby will start having more solids and less milk or formula. If your baby is under nine months, offer milk first. Approximately 30 minutes after they’ve finished their milk, you can offer solids. After nine months, offer milk second.  

Food can be introduced in any order and amount that suits your baby. Continue introducing different foods until they are eating a variety of foods from the five food groups to ensure they receive adequate amounts of important nutrients including fat, protein, vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron and zinc.   

When you first introduce solids, your baby may only accept one or two teaspoons of food at each meal. This is very normal. Always let your baby decide how much food to eat.  

Begin with one solid meal a day until your baby shows cues they’re ready for the next. In the early weeks of introducing solids, it takes around six weeks for a baby to graduate to half a cup of solids a day.  

Offer your baby foods that are the right texture for their stage of development.  

Between six and nine months is a crucial window of opportunity to introduce textured foods. If you miss this opening, you may increase the chance of feeding difficulties later. A variety of tastes, choices and textures are key!  

Start with iron rich food like fortified cereals, puree, meat, poultry, fish, legumes and tofu  

Progress to mash  

Progress to minced and finely chopped foods  

Progress to finger foods  

Progress to smaller pieces of family food  

It’s very normal for children to have particular food preferences. Some like vegetables, some prefer fruit, some like only puree, and some like white foods (rice, breads, pasta, dairy). It is important that you encourage your child to try a wide variety of tastes and textures to ensure you’re meeting their nutritional and developmental needs.  

It is recommended to introduce common allergy causing foods before 12 months of age to help reduce the chance of developing food allergies. Common allergens include egg, peanut, cow’s milk (dairy), tree nuts (such as cashew or almond paste), soy, sesame, wheat, fish, and other seafood.   

Unless your baby has an allergic reaction to the food, continue to give the food to your baby regularly (twice weekly), as part of a varied diet. Trying a food and then not giving it regularly may result in a food allergy developing. If your infant has an allergic reaction, stop giving that food and seek medical advice.  

How should I start introducing egg or peanuts? 

Introduce well cooked egg and smooth peanut butter/paste in small amounts to start with, as you would with other foods. You can try;

  • Mix a small amount (¼ teaspoon), of hard-boiled egg or peanut butter/paste into your baby’s usual food (such as vegetable puree). 
  • Gradually increase the amount if your baby is not having any allergic reactions, for example ½ teaspoon the next time. 
  • You can rub a small amount of the food inside your baby’s lip as a starting point. If there is no allergic reaction after a few minutes, you can start giving small amounts of the food as described above. 
  • Never smear or rub food on your baby’s skin, as this will not help to identify possible food allergies and may increase the risk of the baby developing an allergy to that food. 

If you’re unsure what is right for your baby, seeing your GP is a good place to start to ask these questions. 

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