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Introducing complementary foods: Feeding from around 6 months

Category: Child Health

Topic: Diet and Eating

Your baby needs to start eating foods other than breastmilk or formula at around 6 months of age. This is because your growing baby can no longer get enough iron, zinc and energy from breastmilk or formula alone. However, breastmilk has important nutrients for growing and should be continued until 12 months and beyond for as long as you and your baby want. The aim is that by 12 months your baby will be eating a wide range of healthy foods with the rest of the family.

What foods can my baby eat?

  • It is important that the first foods you give your baby are rich in iron. This includes cereals with added iron (e.g. baby rice cereal) and cooked and pureed meat, poultry, fish, tofu and legumes.
  • After this, begin adding a range of fruit, vegetables, grains/cereals and dairy foods (e.g. yoghurt, cheese and custard) in any order that suit you and your baby.
  • It is recommended that the first foods given to your baby are pureed. Adding breastmilk or formula can help make foods smooth and mushy.
  • Drinking plain water is a good habit to encourage early. Begin offering cooled boiled water from a cup with a spout.
  • Breastmilk or formula will be your baby’s main food at this age. Continue to breastfeed or formula feed on demand.

Feeding from around 6 months

All babies are different and will start eating foods in a different order and rate that is right for them. Here are some tips to help you start introducing your baby to complementary foods:

  • Choose a time when your baby is happy and you are calm. Make sure you have time to focus on your baby.
  • Start with a single iron-rich pureed food like baby rice cereal or pureed meat.
  • Offer 1 to 2 teaspoons of first foods after a breast or infant formula feed. Slowly increase this to 2 to 3 tablespoons.
  • Start offering complementary foods once a day and slowly build up to 3 times a day. Offer more food as your baby grows.
  • It is normal for babies to refuse new foods. Sometimes it can take 10 to 12 times of offering a food before a baby will accept it.
  • Babies know when they have had enough and may turn their head away. Offer your baby food later instead of forcing them to keep eating.
  • Always supervise babies when they are eating.

Feeding from 7 to 12 months

By now your baby is eating baby rice cereal and pureed meats, grains, fruit, vegetables, some dairy and breastmilk or formula.

  • Over the next few months, vary the texture of foods from smooth, to a fine mash, to a lumpy mash, to minced food, to finger food. Giving different textures is good for jaw and mouth development.
  • Offer foods 3 times per day, at routine meal times, moving from after to before breastfeeds or infant formula as intake increases.
  • Accept mess. Your baby will make some mess as they experiment and touch different foods.
  • Continue to try a variety of new foods—fruits, vegetables, meat and fish, grains, and dairy. Make sure boneless fish is cooked and checked well for bones. Canned products should be in water, and not salted.
  • Cooled boiled water, expressed breastmilk or formula can be offered from a cup.
  • Sit your baby with the family at meal times to watch and learn.
  • The amount of food your baby needs will change from day to day depending on their growth and activity levels. Provide your baby with a variety of foods and let them decide how much they want to eat. It is okay to have food left over on the plate. Check and record your baby’s growth regularly as a guide that they are getting enough.

Are there any foods that are not good for my baby?

It is important to offer your baby a wide range of foods with different flavours and textures. Some foods are not needed and are best to be avoided at this age to reduce the risk of choking or illness:

  • Small, hard foods may cause choking. Avoid foods such as whole nuts, seeds, corn chips, hard lollies, raw carrot, and chunks of apple.
  • There is no need to add sugar or salt to foods. They can cause tooth decay and can make extra work for your baby’s small kidneys.
  • Cow’s milk should not be given as a drink until 12 months of age. Some cow’s milk can be added to food to help with pureeing or mashing.
  • Honey is not needed and can cause illness in babies younger than 12 months of age. It is unsafe to use honey as a sweetener on dummies or bottles.
  • Soft drinks, cordials, fruit juice, tea and coffee are not suitable drinks for babies. Breastmilk (or formula) and water are the only fluids your baby needs.

Tips

  • Prepare food ahead of time and freeze it in ice-cube trays or small individual containers for later use.
  • Babies have an increased risk of food poisoning. Make sure food is fresh, clean and stored correctly. Only keep prepared food in your fridge for 1 to 2 days.
  • You will notice changes in your baby’s nappies as they eat new foods. This can be normal and might change with different foods. Contact your health professional if you are concerned.
  • Check your baby’s growth often and make sure it is recorded on the growth chart in your baby’s Personal Health Record. Check that your baby’s growth keeps following the pattern or curve on the graph. If the growth curve is flat or moving downward, see your health professional immediately.
  • When your baby’s teeth appear, brush them with a child-sized, soft toothbrush. Use a pea-sized amount of low-fluoride toothpaste after your baby turns 6 months in non-fluoridated areas and after 18 months in fluoridated areas.

Sample menu (6 to 7 months)

This sample menu might guide you when starting your baby on solid food. This is a guide only. Babies may vary how much they eat each day depending on growth and activity.

Breakfast

Baby cereal (1 tablespoon) mixed with breastmilk or formula

Mashed fruit (1/2 tablespoon)

Yoghurt (1/2 tablespoon)

Breastmilk or 100mL infant formula

Mid morning

Breastmilk or 150mL infant formula

Lunch

Blended/mashed meat (1 tablespoon)

Blended/mashed vegetables (1 tablespoon)

Bread cut into pieces (1/2 slice) or pasta/rice (1 tablespoon)

Breastmilk or 100mL infant formula

Mid afternoon

Breastmilk or 150mL infant formula

Dinner

Blended/mashed meat (1 tablespoon)

Blended/mashed vegetables (1 tablespoon)

Pasta/rice (1 tablespoon)

Breastmilk or 100mL infant formula

Sample menu (7 to 12 months)

This sample menu might guide you when starting your baby on solid food. This is a guide only. Babies may vary how much they eat each day depending on growth and activity.

Breakfast

Baby cereal (about 3 tablespoons) mixed with breastmilk or formula or cow’s milk

Mashed fruit (1 tablespoon)

Yoghurt (1/2 tablespoon)

Breastmilk or 100mL infant formula

Mid morning

Breastmilk or 150mL infant formula

Lunch

Blended/mashed meat (1 tablespoon)

Blended/mashed vegetables (1 tablespoon)

Bread cut into pieces (1/2 slice) or pasta/rice (1/4 cup)

Breastmilk or 100mL infant formula

Mid afternoon

Breastmilk or 150mL infant formula

Dinner

Blended/mashed meat (1 tablespoon)

Blended/mashed vegetables (1 tablespoon)

Pasta/rice (1/2 cup)

Breastmilk or 100mL infant formula

Resources for parents, families and carers

Booklet: Child Health Information, Queensland Government (PDF, 1.34MB) (given to parents of every baby born in Queensland with the Personal Health record)

Growing Strong—Starting solids, Queensland Government (PDF, 743kB)

Breastfeeding your baby in Australia, Queensland Government—including booklet, poster and fact sheets for Sudanese, Burundian and Congolese communities

Healthdirect Australia—Introducing solid food, Australian Government

Raising Children Network—Introducing solids, Australian Government

Brochure: Giving your baby the best start, Australian Government (PDF, 351kB)

Brochure: Get Up & Grow, Australian Government (PDF, 166kB)

Starting family foods, New South Wales Government

Brochure: Starting solids, New South Wales Health

Baby’s first foods, New South Wales Government

Eating tips for babies, Victoria Government

Booklet: Guide to foods—baby’s first year, Victoria Government

Fact sheet: Foods in the first year of life, Victoria Government

Healthy eating for babies and young children, South Australia Government

Foods for babies (solids), South Australia Health

Booklet: First foods, South Australia Government

Brochure: Drinks for children, South Australia Government

Booklet: Baby’s first food, Western Australia Government

Fact sheet: Baby’s first food, Western Australia Government

Booklet: From milk to more… Introducing foods to your baby, Australian Capital Territory Government

Booklet: Start them right—A parent’s guide to eating for under 5s, Tasmanian Government

Related contnet

Introducing complementary foods: Feeding from 12 months

Introducing complementary foods: Recipes for babies

How children develop: Food and nutrition (1 to 5 years)

Healthy eating and weight control in children

Iron for toddlers and children

Acknowledgement

This information is drawn from:

  • Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service 2015, Child health information: Your guide to the first 12 months.
  • National Health and Medical Research Council 2013, Australian dietary guidelines.
  • National Health and Medical Research Council 2013, Infant feeding guidelines.

This fact sheet is also the result of input and effort from many health professionals in Queensland. Their assistance with the content is greatly appreciated.

This information is provided as general information only and should not be relied upon as professional or medical advice. Professional and medical advice should be sought for particular health concerns or events. Best efforts have been used to develop this information, which is considered correct and current in accordance with accepted best practice in Queensland as at the date of production. The State of Queensland (Queensland Health) does not accept liability to any person for the information provided in this fact sheet nor does it warrant that the information will remain correct and current. The State of Queensland (Queensland Health) does not promote, endorse or create any association with any third party by publication or use of any references or terminology in this fact sheet.

If you are in a emergency situation, call 000

Contact

  • Get qualified health advice 24/7 for the cost of a local call. 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84)
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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated
25/09/2017 1:35:26 PM

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