Updated: Jun 6
Anna Ritan, Paediatric Dietitian, APD
Starting solids is an exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming especially if you are unsure where to start.
Once your baby is showing ALL the signs of readiness for starting solid foods at around 6 months of age, you can get started with a variety of solid foods.
Babies have specific nutrient requirements to meet their needs for growth and development. Whilst all nutrients are important, there are a few key nutrients of importance for babies to consider:
Iron: Iron requirements are high in babies from 6 months of age, Iron is especially important in babies for brain and central nervous system development, optimal immune function, and a healthy circulatory system
Carbohydrates and Protein: They provide energy and fuel for growth.
Fats: These are an energy source for growth, support brain, and central nervous system development, and help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
Omega 3’s: Important for brain development and vision
Choline: Choline works with the vitamin, folic acid, in many of the pathways that involve nervous system development, It is vital for brain and central nervous system development in babies.
Zinc: Immune system support
B12: Infants need vitamin B12 for supporting brain development and producing healthy red blood cells. Infants who do not get adequate vitamin B12 can become deficient. If left untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency in infants can lead to permanent brain damage.
Introducing a wide variety of whole foods into your baby's diet will help them to meet their nutrition requirements. Here are 10 first foods suitable from 6 months of age to get you and your baby started on your solids journey. These first foods are great if you are baby-led weaning, using a combination feeding approach, or starting with traditional spoon feeding, just modify the texture to suit your child.
Naturally soft and super quick to prepare, makes a great finger food for babies or can be easily mashed.
An excellent source of carbohydrates to provide energy to the body and brain, and essential nutrients that babies need like folate, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium.
Try: Banana halves or spears, or mashed bananas
Naturally soft when ripe, and makes a great finger food for babies
Avocados are an excellent source of fat that babies need to support brain development, high in fibre to support digestion, avocados also contain vitamins E and C as well as zinc for immune health.
Try: Super soft and ripe avocado in large spears or wedges, or mashed avocado.
Cooked beef is an excellent source of fat, protein, choline, iron, zinc, and B12, making it a great first food for your baby. Yes! red meat can be included as a first food, and will not disrupt your baby's digestion or their sleep.
Try: From 6-8/9 months well-cooked beef in a large thick strip (remove any pieces of fat or gristle) for sucking and gnawing, they won't be able to bite a piece off. Once your baby is 8/9 months try shredded slow-cooked beef like brisket. You may also try beef minced which can be mashed/pureed into vegetables.
Cooked zucchini is a great finger food and can also be easily mashed. Zucchini has a bitter taste which can take babies a few tries to get used to. Introducing green and bitter-tasting vegetables early to babies is an important part of learning to accept a variety of flavours, and can help to reduce picky eating down the track.
Zucchini is an excellent source of folate, potassium, and vitamin A to support growth, and the immune system, also a good source of fibre, and can be great for constipation
Try: Roasted or steamed zucchini until soft and easily squished between your fingers, serve in large finger-length spears, you can leave the skin on, or mash for spoon feeding or hand scooping.
5. Chicken Liver
Cooked chicken liver can be great first food served with or added into foods for a big hit of Iron and Vitamin A. Stick with only offering chicken liver 1-2 times per week.
Chicken liver is an excellent source of Iron, which is recommended as a first food for babies. Also high in fat, protein, and zinc to support growth.
Try: Cooked and pureed chicken liver with some water or butter*, or served mixed into mashed vegetables, from around 8/9 months you can try thin or shredded pieces of cooked liver.
6. Hemp Seeds
The mighty hemp seed is a quick and simple way to boost the nutrients of any meal.
Hemp seeds are an excellent source of non-Haem Iron, healthy fats like omega 3, and fibre, and they are a complete source of essential amino acids (protein). For babies make sure you use hulled hemp seeds as these have the harder outer shell removed.
Try: hulled hemp seeds or hemp seed flour (these have the harder outer shell removed) to coat slippery foods like avocado, mango, banana, and cooked pumpkin with hemp seeds, or add hemp seeds directly into pureed fruit or vegetables
Eggs are such a versatile and quick food to prepare for babies, they are a common food allergen so follow the advice on introducing food allergens to your baby first. Eggs are a good source of iron and also provide a source of choline, B12, and protein.
Try: Omellete strips for baby-led weaning, or a hard-boiled egg can easily be mashed into vegetables.
Rich in fibre, they are the perfect little food to introduce to babies and are a great source of protein, iron and vitamins and minerals. Lentils are also a source of prebiotics that help to nourish your baby’s gut microbes and support gut health. They are also high in polyphenols which are protective against many diseases.
Try: My baby-friendly dahl recipe, or a cooked lentil and vegetable mash.
Such an easy fish to prepare for babies, you can use tinned (choose a tinned-sardine with no added salt) or cook fresh sardines. Sardines are an excellent protein source rich in choline and omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA to support your baby's development. Be sure to remove the bones in the sardines.
Fish is a common food allergen so follow the advice on introducing food allergens to your baby first.
Try: You can mash sardines into vegetables or serve them baby-led weaning style by serving half a fillet.
Cooked pumpkin can make a great finger food for babies, pumpkin is a great source of vitamin A, fibre, and vitamin C.
Try: Offer well-cooked finger-length pieces or cut them into large wedges. You can also offer mashed pumpkin with an iron food.
For more on first foods, how to make a nutritionally balanced meal for your baby, how to introduce the top 9 common food allergens, developmental readiness and how to tell if your child is ready, different ways to feed your baby, steps for safe baby-led weaning and so much more check out the Nourish Little Lives Starting Solids Guide.