Introducing solids: first food and advancing textures
From soft purees to lumpier textures and finger foods, let your baby explore the world of food at their own pace.
Most babies are ready to start eating at around six months, and are usually offered soft purees as their first taste of solid food. It is an exciting time for parents and bubs.
There are no rules about which order foods should be introduced. Instead, try to offer your baby a wide variety of whole foods, fruits and vegetables – from classic pureed fruits and vegetables, to cooked grains and slivers of soft cooked meat.
Try different tastes and textures
Babies are adventurous eaters. Most are willing to try new flavours in their first few months of eating – the more tastes and textures you offer in these early days, the more likely she is to develop healthy eating habits.
Babies naturally prefer sweet foods, so letting her taste bitter vegetables early on will help her to develop a broader palate.
Research shows that waiting beyond nine months to introduce lumpier textures can lead to food aversions, so if you do start with purees it is important to advance to lumpier consistencies and then finger foods of different textures and sizes once your child is comfortable.
Follow your baby’s cues
Your baby may not like a new food the first time it is offered. Follow her lead – never attempt to force-feed your child. Try preparing a food she may have first rejected a different way, and remember it can take over 20 attempts before a baby is ready to accept a new taste or texture.
Learn to read your baby’s cues to know when she is full or has had enough. She may move her head away from the approaching spoon, spit out or refuse what you are offering, or just lose interest. During the early days, she will only eat a tablespoon or two of solid food – this gradually progresses to three meals and two snacks a day. By the end of her first year she will probably be feeding herself finger foods at the family dinner table.
It’s also a good idea to feed your baby when she is hungry but not ravenous. This is usually about an hour after she has breastfed or taken a bottle. Let her have fun and get messy; smearing, crushing and playing as she explores the food through taste, touch and smell.
Foods to avoid
There are a few foods that should be completely avoided during your baby’s first year. These include:
- Honey due to the risk of botulism
- Whole cows’ milk is not recommended as a main drink in infants under 12 months of age as it can lead to iron deficiency
- Excess sodium
- Small foods that pose a choking risk
Also avoid or limit juice, soft drinks and caffeinated beverages, artificial sweeteners, additives and preservatives for children of all ages.