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Feeding Milestones: Stages of your little one’s solids journey

The initial year of a baby's life is characterised by swift growth and development, and optimal nutrition is paramount during this phase. The introduction of solids is one significant milestone in their first year. The aim of introducing solid food is to transition a baby from an entirely milk-based diet to eating the same foods as the rest of the family.

Here is a guide illustrating how feeding habits evolve through different food textures between the age of 6-12 months. It is normal for babies to develop at different rates, so be guided by your baby’s feeding cues and developmental capabilities.

Stage 1 (Around 6 months): Beginning with Solids

At around six months of age, your baby’s nutritional needs are increasing rapidly, and solid foods should be introduced to complement breastmilk or infant formula. It's essential to note that for the first few months, solids are just a supplement to breast milk or formula, which will be the primary source of nutrition. Therefore, offer milk first and supplement their diet with solid foods.

Six months is a guideline, so observe if your baby is genuinely ready for solids. Signs that your baby is ready for solids are discussed in our previous blog.

First foods typically include pureed vegetables, fruits, and iron-rich meats which are ideal starters. Start with 1-2 teaspoons of slightly warm, smooth puree, and gradually increase to 3-4 teaspoons per meal. You can also incorporate the baby-led weaning (BLW) approach.


Stage 2 (Around 7-8 Months): Exploring Textures

By 7-8 months of age, as your baby masters swallowing, they will generally have moved on from smooth pureed foods to soft mashed/lumpy foods to develop biting and chewing skills. At this stage, milk will still be their primary source of nutrition, so continue to offer this first.

This stage allows your baby to explore different textures. Minced and very finely chopped foods can now be introduced, initially added to mashed foods if preferred.

Large pieces of cooked or ripe soft foods (without skins, pips, or seeds) that the baby can grasp and bring to their mouth can also be offered, such as ripe banana or well-cooked pumpkin. Soft food is considered to be food that can easily be squashed between your thumb and forefinger or between the roof of your mouth and tongue.

This stage is an excellent opportunity to expose your baby to a wide range of flavors. Try mixing foods with a range of tastes, mixing less popular foods in with ones your baby really likes may encourage your wee one to accept a wider variety of food. Our First Food Checklist is a great resource to help provide ideas and keep track of different foods your baby has tried.


Stage 3 (Around 8-9 Months): Expanding Choices

At around 8-9 months of age, consider offering solids before milk/formula feeds, followed by water. Most babies at this stage engage with 'finger foods' they pick up themselves and begin attempting to use a spoon.

Your baby may now be interested in lots of different foods and textures. Experiment with minced, mashed, grated, and finely chopped textures. Slightly firmer, finely cut foods such as kiwifruit, well-cooked kumara, or thinly sliced cheese can also be introduced.

Cautionary Note: Prolonged use of pureed foods and delaying the introduction of lumpy textures beyond the age of 9 months may lead to feeding challenges later and can lower the intake of nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables.


Stage 4 (Around 10-12 Months): Adapting to Family Foods

Towards the end of their first year, your baby should be transitioning to a diet that closely resembles what the rest of the family is eating, especially nutrient-dense foods that are low in sodium and with no added sugars. Chopped, bite-sized portions of fruits, vegetables, and proteins are ideal. Encourage self-feeding and continue to offer a variety of foods to promote a well-rounded palate. Monitor your baby's intake and ensure they are getting the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.

Continue to offer a range of different tastes and textures, including family foods where appropriate. Ensure that all foods are cut into small, manageable pieces to avoid choking hazards. As they gain competence at self-feeding, continue to offer finger foods which can be a fun way for them to practice their fine motor skills.


General Tips:

Gradual Transition: When introducing solids, make the transition gradual. Start with one meal a day and gradually increase to two or three meals as your baby becomes accustomed to solid foods.

Proper Hydration: Babies need adequate hydration throughout their first year and beyond. Ensure your baby is getting enough breast milk or formula, and as you introduce solids, water can also be offered once they start solids.

Choking Hazards: Babies and children are particularly vulnerable to choking while eating. To reduce this risk, make sure they are sitting during meals, supervised by an adult and that their food is properly prepared to match their developmental stage.

Allergies: Be vigilant about introducing new foods and watch for signs of allergies. Common allergenic foods include peanuts, eggs, and dairy. Consult with your doctor if you suspect an allergic reaction and seek medical assistance.



The first year of your baby's life is a journey of discovery, for both you and your little one. Understanding these feeding milestones equips you to meet your child's nutritional needs, laying a foundation for healthy growth and development.


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