How to get your baby started on solids

Back to blog

How should you introduce your baby to solid foods and when is the right time to start? These are common questions for new parents who have spent the first few months perfecting the art of changing nappies and doing household chores one-handed. Read on to hear six tips for getting your baby started on solids.

  1. Wait until baby shows signs of readiness for solids. This is generally about the age of six months old, and not before four months old without advice from your GP. Until six months of age, babies get the iron they need by drawing on their own iron stores obtained from being in the womb, and through breastmilk and infant formula. These stores decline by the age of about six months, when babies need iron and other essential nutrients for growth.

Babies show signs of being ready by:

  • showing interest in your food by reaching for it, or looking at your plate,
  • having good head and neck control and being able to sit supported, and
  • opening their mouths when offered food on a spoon.


  1. Introduce foods slowly and always supervise them when eating. Introduce foods when you and your baby are relaxed and happy, and after they’ve had breastmilk or infant formula, which is their main food at this age, and a key part of the diet until babies are 12 months old.
  • Your baby will be more open to trying foods when they are not too hungry. Start by offering 1-2 teaspoons of puree and slowly offer food at other mealtimes as your baby’s appetite and interest increases. The amount is not as important at this stage, it’s more about trying new foods. Slowly increase to 2-3 tablespoons in a sitting.
  • To introduce babies to their first taste, bring a spoon of puree to their mouth, wait for them to open and gently slide spoon in a fraction, lingering slightly to the top of the mouth before pulling out again, so they get used to the feeling of the spoon and texture of food in their mouth.
  • Never force a baby to eat. If they’re not ready, don’t worry. Offer food when they show interest another time.
  • When introducing a new taste, give your baby the same taste every day for three days (it can be mixed with other foods if they’ve tried them before). That way if baby has a reaction to any foods, you will know what caused the reaction. In the morning or at lunchtime is a good time to introduce new tastes for this reason.
  • Expect mess when your baby is learning to eat food. It’s natural for them to use their fingers, and it helps them to develop their fine motor skills. Mealtimes become less messy into toddlerhood.
  • Offering sips of cooled boiled water can accompany mealtimes. Cooled boiled water, offered from a cup with a spout, is better for gut health. Water also helps to avoid constipation now that your baby is on solids.
  • Sometimes it can take up to 10 to 12 times of offering a food before baby decides they like it.


  1. Focus on iron-rich foods first. Foods can be introduced to your baby in any order, however focus on iron-rich foods in the beginning. Iron helps with brain development, and as your baby’s iron stores start to deplete by about six months old, their stores need to be built up and maintained.
  • When starting your baby on solids at around 6 months, include iron rich foods like iron-fortified infant rice cereal, mashed or pureed meats, poultry, fish, tofu and legumes.
  • Add a range of fruit, vegetables, grains/cereals, and dairy foods.


  1. Introduce different textures and tastes. As your baby is new to food, a general guide is to start with pureed foods that are easy to swallow in the first 1-2 months, then move on to mashed soft foods, before minced and chopped foods. Babies vary on how much they eat, depending on their growth and how active they are. They also need to be ready for new textures.

You may notice baby is ready for “finger foods” once they’ve been eating for a couple of months. These are any foods they can hold and pick up, such as cooked vegetables, bread crusts, or sultanas. Soften hard vegetables and fruits by cooking them first or finely grate them before offering them to baby, in order to avoid them choking.

At the age of one, your baby will have been exposed to a variety of textures and finger foods, so they are likely ready to eat a wide variety of nutritious family meals.  Experiencing new tastes and textures helps baby’s teeth and jaws to develop, and it helps them learn how to chew. These skills are later needed for when they start speaking.

Read this post for more examples of homecooked foods:


  1. Avoid some foods. Foods to avoid include:
  • Honey until babies are 12 months old. Honey can cause illness in younger babies.
  • Cows’ milk should not be given as a drink until a baby is over 12 months of age. However, from 6 months, dairy foods can be given in small quantities as part of the baby’s solid diet eg. Yoghurt, cheese or milk mixed with other solid foods.
  • Reduced-fat dairy food after two years old.
  • Whole nuts, raw carrot and other hard foods are choking hazards until the age of three.
  • Unpasteurised milk.
  • Added salt and sugar in homemade food and purchased foods.
  • Drinks such as juices, cordials, sugar-sweetened drinks, tea and coffee.
  • Foods high in salt, saturated fat or sugar (such as cakes and lollies).

Some foods also pose as choking hazards such as: nuts and seeds, popcorn, grapes and any other foods that are round or oval in nature, popcorn, hard foods or fruit and vegetables which are difficult to break down into smaller pieces, the skin on sausages (should be removed), and tough pieces of meat.


  1. Introduce foods that can cause allergies in the first 6-12 months. According to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), there is increasing evidence to show that introducing common allergy-causing foods by 12 months may reduce the chance of babies developing a food allergy. These foods include egg, peanut, cow’s milk (dairy), tree nuts, soy, sesame, wheat, fish and other seafood. See ASCIA’s website for more advice on how to introduce these foods to your baby.

You can find further reading about introducing food to your baby at the links below:

Comments are closed.