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Your Guide To Starting Solids

Starting solid foods is a new and exciting step in your baby’s development journey, but knowing where to start can be confusing. Let us help you master mealtimes!

7 mins to read Apr 26, 2023

Around 6 months of age, babies need additional foods along with breastmilk to support their growth and development. As their stomachs are still small, those foods need to contain a lot of nutrition.

Iron is one important nutrient babies will need at this age, so the first foods introduced should be rich in iron. Pureed meat is a great source of iron and recommended as one of your child's first foods. Iron-fortified infant cereals are another great option. Not only are they designed to provide essential nutrients in a small serving, perfect for a small tummy that can’t hold much food at one time, but they are soft and easy to swallow. Start with a thinner consistency, and move to a thicker texture as your baby gets used to eating from a spoon. Introducing new textures and flavours at the appropriate time is important in reducing the risk of later feeding difficulties and establishing healthy eating habits.

How do I know my baby is ready for solid foods?

Young babies have yet to develop the skills needed to move solid foods around in their mouth and successfully swallow. By around 6 months of age, your baby will have developed the motor skills needed to sit up during feeding, draw food off a spoon, and turn their head away when full.

Look for these milestones:

  • Sits with no help because they've gained control over their upper body.
  • Turns their head to the left or right.
  • Moves their tongue backward and forward in a smooth rhythm when you put a small spoon to their lips. This allows them to draw food in and swallow it. It may take a few days to get used to eating from a spoon, but they will learn quickly!

Tip: It’s a great idea to speak with your healthcare professional before your baby’s 6-month visit about whether your baby is ready to start solid foods.

Tips for baby’s first spoonful of food

  • Offer your baby breastmilk or your baby’s formula feed before solids so they won’t be fussy or too hungry.
  • Take your time. Choose a time of day you don’t have to rush.
  • Choose the appropriate spoon. Use a small, baby-sized round-tipped soft reusable spoon to protect your baby’s tender gums. Read our handy list on other items you may need when introducing solids.
  • Sit them in an upright infant seat or high chair, making sure their head is in an upright position.
  • Let them explore. Place a small amount of puree or infant cereal on their high chair tray so they can "finger paint" with it and become familiar with its texture. Let your baby explore the feel and smell of the food. This is both fun and messy! Keep your sense of humour and keep the camera handy for pictures.
  • First Bite! Sit facing your baby and hold a half-spoonful of food about 30cm from their face. Get their attention and put the spoon up to their mouth. For the first taste, try putting a dab of food on their lip. If they're agreeable to that first taste, put the next spoonful into their mouth when they open it. Feed your baby as slowly as they want and always look for fullness cues. It’s all about the experience!
  • Try, try again. Don’t be surprised if your baby’s first mouthful pops right back out. It’s a natural reflex. If your baby seems unhappy about this experience, give it up for now and try again later.

Tip: Breast milk (or infant formula) is still your baby’s main source of nutrition. This is a time of introducing new flavours and textures to your baby, a time of exploration.

How to introduce iron fortified infant cereals

  • Start with infant rice cereal. Offering only single-grain cereals at first lets you pinpoint any possible food sensitivities or reactions—such as a rash, diarrhoea or vomiting—your baby may have to a new food.
  • Prepared infant cereal should never be fed from a bottle—only from a spoon.
  • When first starting infant cereal, mixing with breastmilk or baby’s usual milk is a great way to slowly introduce new flavours. Move to a thicker consistency once you feel your baby is mastering the thin texture.
  • Prepare only as much as you think they will eat. Discard any leftover infant cereal after the meal, don’t keep it as it may grow bacteria very easily.

Tip: Introduce common allergenic foods one at a time. This will help identify the problem food if there is an allergic reaction. Australia’s leading Allergy experts (ASCIA) recommend that parents don’t delay or avoid the introduction of potentially allergenic foods. Future research and evidence may find that there are optimal timings for introduction for individual allergenic food. If you suspect a reaction, stop feeding your baby that new food and speak to your healthcare professional.

Baby in highchair being fed an orange puree on a spoon

An example 6-8-month-old menu

This sample day was created by accredited practising dietitians to help meet the nutrition goals of a 6- to 8-month-old baby. Your child may eat more or less, so always follow their hunger and fullness cues. Your baby’s feeding skills will develop over time, once they’ve mastered the pureed foods to start with, move onto soft mashed and then finger foods at around 8 months of age.

How much solid food should I feed my baby?
Start with 1-2 teaspoons after breastfeeding or your baby’s formula when first introducing solid foods. As your baby grows and develops, look for signs they are ready for more solid food, and slowly increase the volume to 1-2 tablespoons or more according to your baby’s appetite. See this article for common hunger and fullness cues in babies.

Morning feeding

  • Breast milk or infant formula (cow’s milk should not be offered to babies younger than 1 year of age)


  • Iron-fortified infant cereal mixed with breast milk or infant formula
  • Pureed fruit, such as peaches or pears

Mid-morning snack

  • Breast milk or infant formula


  • Breast milk or infant formula
  • Pureed meat
  • Pureed vegetables, such as carrots

Afternoon snack

  • Breast milk or infant formula


  • Breast milk or infant formula
  • Iron-fortified cereal mixed with breast milk
  • Pureed fruit

Evening feeding

  • Breast milk or infant formula

Foods and drinks to avoid before 12 months

Honey may contain harmful bacteria and cause infant botulism. Even in small amounts, honey can be dangerous for a baby younger than 12 months and should be avoided.

Cow’s milk
Cow’s milk is not an appropriate drink for babies under 12 months of age. Breast milk (or infant formula) should be your baby’s choice of milk to drink in the first year of life, it will provide an important combination of nutrients in the right amount.

Sugar and salt
Some babies are being introduced to salty snacks, chips, lollies and soft drink far too young. Australian guidelines don’t recommend these ‘discretionary’ foods in the diet of children under 12 months of age as they run the risk of filling them up before they can eat more nutritious foods. Eating these foods too early may also establish poor eating habits at a very young age that may become harder to change as time goes on.

Sugar-Sweetened drinks
Sweetened drinks, including fruit juice, should be avoided due to their relatively high sugar content. Children over 12 months can have diluted fruit juice as part of their healthy diet, but should be limited to 120-180mL per day.

Caffeinated drinks
Tea, coffee and energy drinks are not suitable for infants, the caffeine and tannins may affect the absorption of some vitamins and minerals.

Foods that are choking hazards
Your baby will start out with thinly pureed foods, work up to thicker textures, then move to soft finger foods. You might think they're ready to handle more but avoid giving your baby foods known to be choking hazards until your baby is old enough and experienced enough to chew their food properly, this could be up to 5 years of age.

Foods which can cause choking include:

  • Raisins and whole grapes.
  • Popcorn, nuts and seeds.
  • Hot dogs, chunks of meat or poultry.
  • Spoonfuls of peanut butter.
  • Hard, raw or chunky fruits and vegetables such as whole peas, raw carrots, celery sticks or apples.
  • Gum, chewy or hard candy.

It is always recommend to supervise your baby while they’re eating as babies may choke on any food of any texture.