Nutrition
When to introduce snacks to baby

Foods can be introduced in any order provided they have an appropriate consistency for your baby’s developmental age.

When can my baby start eating with the family?

As soon as baby can sit up in a highchair and take solids, they can be eating meals with the family and enjoying the social aspect of dining. Be sure to give them a spoon so they can help feed themselves. Try and adapt family’s meals for baby where possible. And if baby’s feeding times don’t coincide with yours, feed him earlier and give him finger food to eat while you enjoy your meal. Mealtimes are family times.

When to introduce snacks

Some foods need to be iron-rich (e.g. rice cereal that has been iron fortified). Solids may include rice cereal, pureed meat, poultry, fish and liver, or cooked tofu and legumes. Vegetables, fruits, and dairy products such as full-fat yoghurt and cheese can then be added. The following table is only an example of the sequence and amounts to give. You can introduce other food, increase the rate of new food introduction and vary the amount depending on your baby’s hunger level and ability to tolerate the new foods. Offer your baby their breastfeed or infant formula before solids so that they continue to receive adequate milk until their intake of solid foods is well established.

You will get to a stage when you stop measuring and provide your baby with a varied and changing diet that reflects the family diet. This will reduce the time you spend in the kitchen.

If your baby is in childcare talk to the centre staff to ensure your baby is offered appropriate and safe foods as they learn to tolerate solid foods.

From eight months

From about eight months of age your baby will start to chew on their gums. When this starts to occur it is a sign that they are ready to try more coarsely mashed or minced foods. By eight months they will want to help feed themselves; so giving your baby a spoon can encourage eating skills and independence at feedtimes. The amount of food you offer your baby will depend on their appetite.

Increase the variety of cooked or raw vegetables (e.g. carrot, potato, tomato), fruit (e.g. apple, banana, melon), whole egg, cereals (e.g. wheat, oats), bread, pasta, dairy foods such as full-fat cheese, custards and yoghurt.

This is a good time to introduce finger foods such as toast fingers, sugarless rusks, cooked vegetables (e.g. beans and carrot) sticks or tomato slices.

If your baby is in childcare make sure they are receiving an adequate diet that contains iron-rich foods.

At 12 months

Around 12 months of age, your baby will be ready to eat most things the family is eating. They will actively reach for food. Foods can now be chopped up. Full-fat cow’s milk and water can become the main drinks. Milk should be limited to no more than 600 mL per day. If your baby is still breastfeeding or taking lots of milk-based foods then offer less cow’s milk. Some babies will reduce their milk intake well below 600 mL per day. Remember, they will gain additional fluid from the food you offer (e.g. fruit and vegetables often have a high water content) and calcium from dairy products such as yoghurt and cheese.

If they are attending childcare they will now be eating the food the centre offers to toddlers (12 months to 3years).

 

Age

Suggested progression

6 months

Start with one meal per day.

Gradually increase the amount and variety of foods. Start with one teaspoon of pureed food and each day gradually increase. At first the puree will be reasonably fluid, as they learn to eat increase the thickness of the puree. Introduce only one type of new food at a time.

Some babies are happy on one meal a day while others will show obvious hunger and quickly demand two meals per day.

Remember to offer a breastfeed or infant formula before solid food.

7 months

By this time your baby will be on at least two meals a day while some may be demanding three meals.

Continue to increase the amount and variety of foods. Allow your baby’s behaviour during meal times to guide how much you offer them to eat.

The texture of the pureed food offered can now be thicker.

Continue to offer a breastfeed or infant formula before solid foods.

Age

Suggested progression

8 months

Three meals a day will be eaten by your baby.

Continue to increase the amount and variety of foods guided by your baby’s behaviours and feeding cues.

Mashed and minced food will now be enjoyed.

Finger foods of soft sticks of vegetable

Continue to offer a breastfeed or infant formula before solid foods.

Your baby will enjoy having their own spoon to help at meal times.

9 months

Three meals will be enjoyed by your baby especially if they eat with the rest of the family.

Now is the time to introduce a healthy snack either in the morning or afternoon.

Continue to increase the amount and variety of foods.

Your baby will have started to develop their pincer grasp (thumb and finger used to pick up objects) and enjoy finger foods and helping to feed themselves.

Remember to always closely supervise while eating.

Allow your baby’s behaviour to guide whether you offer a breastfeed or infant formula before or after their solid food.

12 months

Three meals that are the same as the rest of the family meal.

Food is cut up in baby bite size or mashed with a fork, with lots of finger food.

Two healthy snacks per day will be enjoyed especially if they can feed themselves.

Remember to always closely supervise while eating and have your baby sitting securely in their high chair or on your lap.

Allow your baby’s behaviour to guide whether you offer a breastfeed or infant formula before or after their solid food.

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