When do babies start eating baby food?

Babies typically start eating baby food around six months old. This milestone marks an exciting new phase in a child’s development as they explore tastes and textures beyond breast milk or formula.

Many parents eagerly anticipate this moment, wondering when their little one will be ready for that first spoonful of pureed goodness.

The transition to solid foods is a gradual process that varies for each baby. While six months is a common starting point, some infants may show readiness signs earlier or later.

The transition to solid foods is a gradual process that varies for each baby. While six months is a common starting point, some infants may show readiness signs earlier or later.

In this article, we’ll explore when and how to introduce baby food, signs of readiness, and tips for making the journey to solid foods a smooth and enjoyable experience for both baby and parent.

Signs Your Baby is Ready for Solid Foods

Before diving into baby food, ensuring your little one is developmentally ready is crucial. Here are some key signs to look out for:

1. Age and Growth

Most babies are ready to start solid foods around six months old. By this age, they’ve typically doubled their birth weight and have enough iron stores to support the transition.

2. Head Control

Your baby should be able to hold their head steady and upright when supported in a sitting position.

3. Sitting Skills

They should be able to sit with minimal support, essential for safe feeding.

4. Loss of Tongue-Thrust Reflex

Babies are born with a reflex that pushes food out of their mouths. This reflex usually disappears around 4-6 months.

5. Interest in Food

Your baby may start showing interest in what you’re eating, reaching for food, or opening their mouth when food approaches.

6. Increased Appetite

If your baby seems hungry even after a complete feeding of breast milk or formula, it might be time to introduce solids.

The Importance of Timing

While six months is the generally recommended age to start baby food, it’s essential to understand why timing matters:

Digestive System Development

Around six months, a baby’s digestive system has matured enough to handle solid foods. Starting too early may increase the risk of allergies or digestive issues.

Nutritional Needs

By six months, babies start needing additional nutrients, particularly iron, that may not be adequately supplied by breast milk or formula alone.

Developmental Readiness

At this age, most babies have developed the necessary motor skills to consume and swallow solid foods safely.

First Foods to Introduce

When starting baby food, it’s best to begin with single-ingredient purees. Here are some excellent first-food options:

1. Iron-Fortified Cereals

These are often recommended as a first food due to their iron content.

2. Pureed Vegetables

Options like sweet potatoes, carrots, or peas are nutrient-rich and usually well-tolerated.

3. Pureed Fruits

Apples, pears, or bananas can be good choices. Avoid citrus fruits initially, as they may cause diaper rash.

4. Pureed Meats

For breastfed babies, pureed meats can be an excellent source of iron.

How to Introduce Baby Food

Introducing solid foods is an exciting but sometimes challenging process. Here are some tips to make it smoother:

Start Slow

Begin with just 1-2 teaspoons of food once a day, gradually increasing the amount and frequency.

One New Food at a Time

Introduce new foods one at a time, waiting 3-5 days between each new food to watch for any allergic reactions.

Consistency Matters

Start with thin, smooth purees and gradually increase thickness as your baby becomes more adept at eating.

Timing of Meals

Offer solid foods when your baby is alert and not overly hungry. You might first try offering a small amount of breast milk or formula to remove their hunger.

Be Patient

It’s normal for babies to reject new foods at first. Keep offering a variety of foods, and don’t force-feeding if your baby isn’t interested.

Progressing Through Textures

As your baby grows and becomes more comfortable with eating, you can start introducing different textures:

6-7 Months: Smooth Purees

Start with thin, single-ingredient purees.

7-8 Months: Thicker Purees

Increase the thickness slightly and introduce combinations of foods.

8-10 Months: Mashed Foods

Offer mashed foods with soft lumps to encourage chewing.

10-12 Months: Finger Foods

Introduce soft, bite-sized pieces of food your baby can pick up and feed themselves.

Foods to Avoid in the First Year

While introducing solid foods, there are certain items you should avoid:

  • Honey (risk of botulism)
  • Cow’s milk as a drink (can be used in cooking)
  • Choking hazards like whole grapes, nuts, popcorn, or hard candies
  • Added salt or sugar
  • Unpasteurized foods
  • Fruit juices (limit to tiny amounts, if any)

Balancing Solid Foods and Milk Feeds

As you introduce solid foods, it’s important to remember that breast milk or formula should still be your baby’s primary source of nutrition in the first year.

Here’s a general guide:

6-8 Months

  • Breast milk/formula: 4-6 feeds per day
  • Solid foods: 2-3 small meals per day

9-11 Months

  • Breast milk/formula: 3-4 feeds per day
  • Solid foods: 3 meals per day, with 1-2 snacks

12 Months

  • Breast milk/formula: 3 feeds per day
  • Solid foods: 3 meals per day, with 2-3 snacks

Homemade vs. Store-Bought Baby Food

Many parents wonder whether to make their baby food or buy pre-made options. Here are some pros and cons of each:

Homemade Baby Food


  • Control over ingredients
  • Cost-effective
  • Can customize textures
  • No additives or preservatives


  • Time-consuming
  • Shorter shelf life
  • Requires proper food safety knowledge

Store-Bought Baby Food


  • Convenient
  • Longer shelf life
  • Nutritionally balanced
  • Wide variety of options


  • More expensive
  • May contain additives
  • Less control over ingredients and textures

Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits

The introduction of solid foods is not just about nutrition—it’s also about setting the foundation for lifelong healthy eating habits.

Here are some tips:

1. Offer a Variety of Foods

Expose your baby to various tastes and textures to develop a diverse palate.

2. Be a Role Model

Eat meals together as a family, and let your baby see you enjoying healthy foods.

3. Avoid Using Food as a Reward

This can lead to emotional eating later in life.

4. Respect Your Baby’s Appetite

Let your baby decide how much to eat. Don’t force them to finish a meal if they show signs of fullness.

5. Make Mealtime Enjoyable

Create a positive, relaxed atmosphere during meals.

Dealing with Common Challenges

Introducing solid foods can come with its share of challenges. Here are some common issues and how to address them:

Refusal of New Foods

It’s normal for babies to reject new foods. Keep offering a variety and be patient. It can take up to 15-20 exposures before a baby accepts a new food.


Gagging is a normal reflex that helps prevent choking. It’s different from choking and will decrease as your baby becomes more adept at eating.


Some babies may experience constipation when starting solids. Ensure adequate fluid intake and offer high-fibre foods like pureed prunes or pears.

Allergic Reactions

Watch for signs of allergies, such as hives, vomiting, or difficulty breathing. If you suspect an allergy, consult your paediatrician immediately.

Baby-Led Weaning: An Alternative Approach

Baby-led weaning is an approach to introducing solid foods that skip purees and spoon-feeding. Instead, babies are offered finger foods and allowed to feed themselves from the start.

Pros of Baby-Led Weaning

  • Develops motor skills and hand-eye coordination
  • This may lead to better self-regulation of food intake
  • Can make mealtimes more accessible for parents

Cons of Baby-Led Weaning

  • Potential for increased mess during meals
  • This may lead to initial nutrient deficiencies, particularly iron
  • Increased risk of choking if not done properly

If you’re interested in baby-led weaning, discuss it with your paediatrician to ensure it’s appropriate for your baby.

Monitoring Growth and Development

As you introduce solid foods, it’s important to continue monitoring your baby’s growth and development.

Regular check-ups with your paediatrician will help ensure your baby gets adequate nutrition and grows appropriately.

Growth Charts

Your paediatrician will use growth charts to track your baby’s weight, length, and head circumference. These charts help ensure your baby is growing at a healthy rate.

Developmental Milestones

In addition to physical growth, your paediatrician will monitor developmental milestones related to eating skills.


Starting baby food is an exciting milestone in your child’s development. While 6 months is typically the recommended age to begin, every baby is unique, and looking for signs of readiness is essential.

Remember to introduce foods gradually, offer various nutrient-rich options, and be patient as your baby explores new tastes and textures.

Always consult with your paediatrician before significantly changing your baby’s diet. They can provide personalized advice based on your baby’s individual needs and development.

Enjoy this new phase of your baby’s growth, and remember that fostering a positive relationship with food from an early age can set the foundation for healthy eating habits that last a lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I start baby food before six months?

While six months is recommended, some babies may show signs of readiness earlier. However, it’s crucial to consult with your paediatrician before starting solid foods earlier than six months.

How do I know if my baby is allergic to food?

Common signs of food allergies include hives, vomiting, diarrhoea, or difficulty breathing. To easily identify potential allergies, always introduce new foods one at a time and wait 3-5 days before introducing another new food.

Should I avoid giving my baby allergenic foods?

Recent research suggests that early exposure to allergenic foods (like peanuts, eggs, and fish) may help prevent allergies. However, always consult with your paediatrician, especially if there’s a family history of food allergies.

How long should I continue giving my baby pureed foods?

Most babies are ready to move on to more textured foods around 8-10 months. However, this can vary from baby to baby. Follow your baby’s cues and consult your paediatrician if you have concerns.

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