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Balancing introducing solids with milk feeds

4-minute read

By 6 months of age, babies need solid foods as well as breast milk or formula. Find out how to get started and what are the best foods to start with.

When to change feeds

At 6 months, your baby will still be getting most of their nutrition from breast milk or formula. Start to introduce solid foods around 6 months of age (not before 4 months).

Your baby will take only small amounts of solid foods at first.

Start feeding your baby solids once a day, building to 2 or 3 times a day.

At 8 to 9 months give your baby solids as part of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

From 6 to 9 months give your baby breast milk or formula first, then solids after the milk. From 9 months you can give solids first, then milk. This allows for your baby to naturally transition from formula or breast feeds to just having solids by around 12 months.

Which foods first?

Your baby’s first foods should contain iron. Foods that have iron include iron-fortified baby cereals, meat, poultry, fish, cooked tofu and legumes such as lentils, beans or chickpeas.

Your baby’s first foods should be smooth purees with no lumps. You can make these yourself with a blender.

When your baby accepts foods from a spoon, you can make the food a bit thicker. It is okay to have soft lumps.

Choose from the 5 food groups.

Vegetables and legumes — give your baby cooked and pureed pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, potato, peas, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini. Gradually puree them less so the texture gets thicker. Then introduce vegetables that are cooked but not pureed.

Fruit — give your baby stewed and pureed apples, pears, peaches, apricots and berries, or mashed ripe banana. Gradually introduce pieces of cooked fruit, banana, peach and grated raw apple. Avoid larger pieces of raw apple; babies can choke on them.

Grains and cereals — give your baby fortified infant cereals (e.g. rice cereal) to start. Move to cooked rolled oats, wholegrain breakfast biscuits (Weetbix, Vita Brits) or thick infant cereals. Don’t add sugar or honey and don’t use cereals with chocolate or added sugar.

Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, tofu — make them pureed at the start. When your baby accepts this, offer them pieces of chicken, minced meat, flaked fresh or canned fish (in spring water), mashed tofu, mashed legumes, scrambled or mashed boiled eggs. Don’t add salt and avoid processed meats as they also have a lot of salts.

Milk, cheese, yoghurt — breast milk or formula should be used for up to 12 months, then small amounts of milk can be added to foods like porridge. Grated cheese is good in mashed vegetables. Choose yoghurt without added sugar. Add fruit for extra flavour.

How much?

Babies grow at different rates at different times. Their appetite can vary even from day to day.

Babies don’t know what to eat but they know how much. Take your cue from your baby. Healthy babies turn away or lose interest when they’ve had enough.

Finger foods and self-feeding

By 9 to 12 months, most babies like finger foods.

Some also like their own spoon at that age. It will be messy, but learning to feed themselves is important.

By 12 months, serve the same healthy food you serve your family, but without hot spices.

Encourage infants to feed themselves.

If you have stopped breastfeeding, switch to ordinary cow’s milk after 12 months. Use a cup rather than a bottle. You can use full fat rice milk or oat milk with at least 100mg calcium per 100mL if you want, as long as other sources of protein are included (meat, chicken, fish, eggs, legumes or nut butters). Only use these products under health professional supervision.

Your child doesn’t need toddler milk products.

If your family doesn’t use animal products, your baby may need a vitamin B12 supplement. Discuss this with your doctor.

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Last reviewed: December 2019


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The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

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