4-6 months

PLAYING: How To Start Complementary Feeding

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How To Start Complementary Feeding

Starting complementary feeding is an exciting time. Here are our top tips on how and when to start baby food from our experts.

3 mins to read May 23, 2022
  1. Your healthcare professional can advise when the right time is for your little one to start solid foods. This is at around six months, when your baby is developmentally ready.  You should not start solids before 4 months of age.  Your baby will need to have good hand, eye, and mouth coordination. Check your baby is able to stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady.
  2. There are many ways to introduce solids — pureed, finger foods (also known as baby-led weaning) or a combination of both. For more information, check out this article.
  3. Make sure your baby isn’t tired—it may take a while for them to get used to food from a spoon, so patience is key.
  4. Your baby is hungrier and more alert first thing in the morning, so it’s a good time to try new foods. It also gives you time to monitor for any intolerances over the day.
  5. Sit your baby upright in a highchair with no distractions, like TV, mobiles or tablets.
  6. Give them a little of their usual breastmilk or infant formula first to relax them and take the edge off their hunger.
  7. First foods should include iron-rich foods of the right texture. These could include iron-fortified baby cereals, mashed cooked egg, minced meat or cooked pureed tofu.
  8. A rough guideline is to offer your baby 1-2 teaspoons (i.e. 1-2 mouthfuls) of food after your baby’s milk feed. You can then increase to 2-3 tablespoons.
  9. Feed your baby on solid food once a day initially, then gradually increase the amount and variety of food, being responsive to baby’s cues. Slowly build up to 3 times a day closer to 12 months.
  10. Baby’s complementary feeding diet should include a combination of the essential food groups—fruits, vegetables, grains and starchy foods, dairy, meat, fish and protein foods. They can be enjoyed in any order! Try single foods and different food combinations so baby gets exposure to new tastes and textures. Offering a variety of foods from the different food groups will also provide your baby with the right nutrients for growth and development, such as iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids.
  11. Remember it can take up to 10-12 tries for your baby to accept a new flavour so don’t give up!
  12. Keep a feeding schedule stuck on the fridge to track what your baby has tried, and how often. You can use our Taste Tracker to keep record of your babies likes and dislikes.
  13. Praise your baby when they try something new.
  14. If you’re considering any special or restrictive diets for your baby (e.g. vegetarian), you should first speak with your healthcare professional or dietitian.
  15. Concerned about allergies? The guidance these days is that potentially allergenic foods do not need to be delayed. If you have a history of allergies in your family speak to your healthcare professional first.
  16. Foods to avoid? Some foods are natural choking hazards, such as whole nuts, lychees and grapes—ensure they are chopped up or pureed. Pâté, raw shellfish, and blue or unpasteurized cheeses carry a small risk of food poisoning so are not suitable under the age of two. For a full list of foods to delay, read this article.
  17. Be a good role model. Babies are curious so if you’re enjoying food on your plate, they are likely to be more eager to have some.

Planning to offer finger foods? Follow our baby-led weaning checklist.