Nutrition
Best food for babies

Want to know about starting your baby on solids? Here Tresillian offers tips and advice on signs to look for that baby is ready for solids; whether to chop, mash or puree and what to do if your toddler is a fussy eater.

When do babies start eating solids?

At around the age of 6 months, infants are physiologically and developmentally ready for new foods, textures and modes of feeding, and they need more nutrients than can be provided by breastmilk or formula alone. First foods might be smooth, mashed or in soft pieces, and over time your baby will progress on to minced foods and then chopped foods. You can introduce solids in any order, as long as you include iron-rich foods and a variety of food textures. This helps him learn how to chew, and chewing helps with your baby’s speech development.

Food Texture

Start by offering a smooth puree consistency, introducing one food at a time, until they are eating a variety of foods from all the food groups. As your baby masters the pureed foods, gradually increase the texture and consistency from fine to coarse, mashed, then minced, and then chopped by 12 months. This increase in texture and consistency may take many months to move through the stages.

By eight months, eye-hand coordination is well developed and most babies can manage and enjoy soft textured finger foods. At this stage, they will enjoy having food from your plate.

Puree

Mashed and minced

Chopped

6 months

8 months

12 months

 

NOTE: Never force your baby to take food. Offering solid food is about educating your baby and helping them develop the necessary chewing and swallowing skills.

Foods to offer

Even though you may think your baby’s diet tastes bland and boring, avoid adding sugar, salt or strong seasoning agents. Babies have delicate palates, but can quickly learn to enjoy the family’s normal cultural diet and a healthy mix of family foods without the need for extra sugar or salt.

When deciding on the food to feed your baby, you are sure to be offered lots of advice from family and friends. Often the food you offer your baby will be dependent on your cultural background. Babies in China are often started on congee. Congee is plain rice that is cooked for a long time until it becomes porridge like. It is a popular food for many in China where they add vegetables, tofu, chicken or pork. In South America, maize-based porridge is a common first food.

In Australia, it is now recommended to start offering iron-rich family foods from six months including meat, fish and chicken. By using breastmilk or infant formula on your baby’s first food, the taste difference will be reduced and this may help your baby to accept the solid food being introduced.

Sources for iron rich foods

Babies need iron rich and nutrient dense foods – in other words, a balanced diet. This is a wonderful opportunity to check your own diet to ensure the whole family is eating a very healthy diet. Very quickly your baby will be demanding and eating the same food you are eating.

Good

Medium

Low

Very little

Chicken

Fish
(fresh & canned)

Lamb

Beef

Pork

Liver/kidneys

Beans
(e.g. kidney & soy)

Legumes
(e.g. lentils)

Cereals with added iron

Tofu

Rice

Pasta

Dried fruits

Green vegetables

Bread

Milk/dairy foods

Eggs

Other vegetables

Other fruits

Over the past decade the sequence, variety and type of foods to introduce babies to solid food have significantly changed, becoming far more flexible. This reflects a greater understanding of cultural variations when introducing infants to solid foods.

Recipes

Start by offering your baby a smooth puree consistency, introducing one food at a time, until they are eating a variety of foods from all the food groups. It is important to watch for any reactions to the foods.

As your baby masters pureed foods, gradually increase the texture and consistency from fine to lumpy (coarse), mashed, then minced, and then chopped by 12 months. This increase in texture and consistency may take many months.

By eight to 12 months babies should be starting to eat a ‘baby adapted version’ of the main family meal. At the end of this section there are several recipes that the whole family may enjoy.

Guide to consistency

  • Fine puree – food is blended or put through a sieve
  • Finely mashed – mash with a fork or pulse with a stick blender until lumpy
  • Coarsely mashed – using a fork
  • Finger Food – cut into small chunks or into strips that are easy for an eight to nine month old baby to pick up
  • Toddlers – cut into small chunks.

Remember to always supervise your baby while they are eating to keep them safe.
The following recipes will provide you with some ideas as to the types and consistency of foods you can offer your baby. Many of the recipes will provide more food than your baby will eat, so freeze for another day.

Baby Banana Smoothie

This healthy fruit snack provides your baby with the nutrients of potassium and iron.

Ingredients

  • ½ banana
  • 1–2 tablespoons of breastmilk or infant formula
  • 1 teaspoon of iron enriched baby rice cereal (or for older infants cooked rice)

Method

  1. Peel the banana.
  2. Place it into a blender with the breastmilk or infant formula until the food resembles a puree consistency.
  3. Add a teaspoon of rice cereal and mix thoroughly.

Broccoli and Carrot Mash

Ingredients

  • 1 head of broccoli (with stalk removed)
  • 1 carrot
  • ½ potato peeled (use either Desiree or ‘old’ potatoes)
  • Sprinkling of grated cheese (optional)
  • ¼ cup boiled water or breastmilk

Method

  1. Wash all vegetables thoroughly.
  2. Peel the potato and carrot and chop off the ends.
  3. Steam the vegetables until fully cooked and place in the blender with about ¼ cup of boiled water or breastmilk.
  4. Blend to a puree.
  5. You can add a sprinkling of grated tasty cheese to vary this dish.

Mini Beef Stew

Ingredients

  • 200g diced lean beef (either mince or rump, fish, veal, pork or chicken can replace the beef, or the meat can be replaced by additional vegetables)
  • 1 small portion of cooked pumpkin
  • ½ zucchini cooked
  • ½ potato peeled (use either Desiree or ‘old’ potatoes)

Method

  1. Wash all vegetables thoroughly.
  2. Cook the beef in a frypan in ½ teaspoon of olive oil.
  3. Peel pumpkin and chop the ends off the zucchini.
  4. Steam the vegetables until fully cooked and place in the blender with about ¼ cup of boiled water.
  5. Place cooked meat with vegetables and boiled water into the blender.
  6. Blend to a puree.

Mini Lamb Curry

Ingredients

  • 200g diced lean lamb (i.e. either mince or backstrap: fish, beef, veal, pork or chicken can replace the lamb)
  • ¼ peeled onion
  • ¼ cup diced beans (ends removed)
  • ½ peeled and diced potato (use either Desiree or ‘old’ potatoes)
  • ¼ tin tomatoes
  • dash of garlic
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • pinch of fresh coriander

Method

  1. Wash all vegetables thoroughly.
  2. Cook the garlic, cumin and coriander with the onion in a frypan in ½ teaspoon of olive oil.
  3. Add the finely chopped lamb to the frypan and cook till just done.
  4. Add beans, diced potato and tomato to the frypan
  5. Cook till just soft.
  6. Mash rather than puree.

Avocado Mash

Ingredients

  • Squeeze garlic
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 tablespoon natural yoghurt
  • 2 teaspoons rice bran

Method

  1. Peel the banana and scoop out flesh from avocado.
  2. Mix all ingredients together to form a mash.

Veggie Surprise

Ingredients

  • ½ cup chopped yellow squash
  • 1 tablespoon cooked peas (or beans)
  • 2 tablespoons tinned tomatoes
  • sprinkle of dried parsley
  • ½ peeled and cooked sweet potato

Method

  1. Wash all vegetables thoroughly.
  2. Steam the vegetables until fully cooked.
  3. Add peas, tomatoes and finely chopped sweet potato.
  4. Let simmer till soft.
  5. Add a sprinkle of dried parsley.
  6. Mash with a fork.

Chicken with Quinoa

Ingredients

  • ½ cup diced chicken (beef, veal, pork or lamb can replace the chicken, or you can replace the meat with tofu, legumes or more vegetables)
  • ¼ onion, peeled, diced and cooked
  • squeeze of garlic
  • ½ cup zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons tinned tomatoes
  • fresh basil or mint finely chopped
  • ½ cup quinoa

Method

  1. Cook onion and chicken in the frypan in ½ teaspoon olive oil
  2. Add zucchini and tomatoes to chicken mixture.
  3. Run heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Using a sieve, rinse quinoa in water. Simmer in 1½ cups of water until the quinoa is the same consistency as rice.
  5. Mix all ingredients with finely chopped basil or mint.

Baby Macaroni

Ingredients

  • 500g lean beef mince (lamb, pork or chicken can replace the beef,
    or you can replace the meat with more vegetables or legumes)
  • ½ red onion
  • squeeze garlic
  • ½ cup grated zucchini
  • ½ cup grated carrot
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • fresh parsley
  • 1 cup beef stock (if using stock cubes make sure they are salt free
    or reduced salt)
  • 1 cup macaroni
  • dash Worcestershire sauce
  • grated cheese

Method

  1. Cook onion in ½ teaspoon olive oil in frypan.
  2. Add lean mince and cook.
  3. Add vegetables and parsley to pan.
  4. Add tomato paste.
  5. Let simmer till soft.
  6. Add beef stock.
  7. In a separate saucepan, cook macaroni in 2 cups water.
  8. Once macaroni is soft, strain through.
  9. Serve with grated cheese.

Fish Dish

Ingredients

  • 250g white boneless, skinless fish or salmon
  • ½ onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • ½ cup grated carrot
  • 10g butter
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley
  • 1 potato (cooked in boiling water and mashed)
  • (In a separate saucepan, make a white sauce by melting the butter and then adding flour. Whisk in milk and add grated cheese.)

Method

  1. Cook onion in ½ teaspoon olive oil in frypan.
  2. Add fish and cook.
  3. Add vegetables and parsley to pan.
  4. Let simmer till soft.
  5. Cook white sauce in separate saucepan.
  6. Cook potato in boiling water then mash.
  7. Serve fish and vegetables on mash with white sauce over.
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