When your baby is ready to start taste testing foods, offer your baby their first solids after a breast feed when they are happy, alert and interested.
There are three progressive stages to introduce solids, and you can progress through these as it suits your baby:
Stage 1: Introduce Purees
This step usually begins with iron-fortified smooth baby cereals (mixed with cooled-boiled water or breast milk), and other iron containing foods including finely pureed meat and fish. Vegetables, fruits and dairy foods can then be introduced, made into a smooth consistency using a baby food processor, handheld food processor or blender. Start with a few mouthfuls once or twice a day after breastfeeds. Slowly increase the portion to about a quarter of a cup as your baby tolerates and shows signs they want more.
Follow the right process
Australian recommendations suggest starting with iron containing foods, including iron-fortified infant cereals, pureed meats, poultry and fish (all sources of highly absorbable haem iron), or cooked tofu and legumes (sources of non-haem iron). After this, the order in which you introduce different healthy foods, or the number of new foods introduced at any one time, doesn’t really matter.
Monitor for signs of intolerance and allergy
Australia has one of the highest rates of food allergy in the world and there is much debate as to why this is happening. The current recommendation is not to delay the introduction of any highly allergenic foods. Introduce new foods one at a time, and early in the day, to help monitor for reactions. Reactions can be mild or severe and may happen within minutes or take hours after a food has been eaten. If you are concerned, or your baby develops a rash, swelling, diarrhoea or vomiting, seek medical attention without delay.
Read more on preventing allergies here.
Stage 2: Introduce lumps
A few weeks or so after the introduction of purees, you can start experimenting with soft lumpy foods. As most babies don’t have teeth yet it is important to keep the lumps soft. The lumps help your baby to develop chewing skills and develop tongue strength which adds to the development of speech. Add well-cooked barley or beans to their meals; use a potato masher to mash fruit and vegetables instead of a blender or food processor. Soft fruit like avocado and banana are instant baby foods that only require a little mashing.
Stage 3: Finger foods
By ages 8 to 10 months, most babies can handle small portions of chopped finger foods, such as soft fruits, pieces of steamed vegetables, cooked egg, cheese, soft meats and fish. As your baby approaches their first birthday, mashed or chopped versions of whatever the rest of the family is eating will become your baby’s main fare. Continue to offer breast milk or infant formula with and between meals.
If you would like to learn more about Baby Led Weaning, check out our article here.
We've got loads more info to help you navigate meal times here: Introducing new Foods, First Foods, Baby recipe ideas.