Infant Feeding Schedule - Starting Solids

This page answers these questions on the infant feeding schedule for introduction of solids, which is called weaning.

Babies are ready for weaning once they are over 4 months of age and they have a relatively straight back and are reaching for food. This may be at 4 months in some babies but others may not be ready until 6 months of age.

There is a new movement in the United States called WhiteOut which is encouraging parents to restrict the amount of unrefined carbohydrate (like white baby cereal) given to babies. It is believed that we are programming our children to obesity by teaching them from an early age to like unrefined carbohydrates. Read more.

If you have a specific question in the list below, you can click on the link to go there directly, otherwise read on.

To read about the baby feeding schedule for babies under 6 months of age, click here

To read about food for infants over 12 months of age, click here

To read about the nutritional requirements for children, click here

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When should I introduce solids to my baby?

The infant feeding schedule changes over the first year and solid food is introduced as well as the milk. Solids should not be introduced until your baby can hold up his head himself and is reaching out for food, which is usually between 4 and 6 months of age.

Never give your baby solids before 4 months of age, and some babies can wait until they are 6 months of age. Solids being introduced into the diet is referred to as weaning.

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How do I start to introduce solid food to my baby?

There are a few key points to remember for the infant feeding schedule when solids are first introduced:

  • choose a time your baby is most relaxed and content
  • give the milk feed first - giving food first can overfill your baby's stomach
  • at the end of the milk feed, give a teaspoon of solid food to begin with
  • after a while, slowly increase the food at the end of the feed up to 3 or 4 teaspoons
  • sit your baby upright when feeding solids
  • introduce one food at a time - introduce foods that the family normally eat and that are healthy
  • try a new food at least 10 times - so if your baby doesn't seem to like a food, don't give up, but keep trying. Give a spoonful of the food at the beginning of the meal but don't insist your baby have more than that. If you do this daily for 7 days, your baby will probably start to enjoy the food

It's important to start with small amounts of solids given after the milk feed.

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What foods should I introduce to my baby?

First foods in the infant feeding schedule need to be soft, smooth and plain. Try the following:

  • pureed apple, pear, apricot or peach
  • ripe mashed banana
  • pureed vegetables, such as potato, sweet potato, kumara, pumpkin, carrot, avocado
  • baby rice or infant cereal - use wholegrain and unrefined cereals rather than white refined cereal. To read about the WhiteOut movement advocating reducing white refined cereals in babies diets, click here

Make sure the food is smooth - use a blender or push the food through a fine sieve with a wooden spoon. Use milk, either expressed breast milk or formula to make the food more liquid and easier to digest for your baby.

Once your baby tolerates pureed food well, you can start offering mashed food and finger food and then after that, lumpy food.

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How often should I introduce a new food?

Introduce one food at a time and try a new food every 5 days, according to what your family normally eats.

Introduce a food at least 10 times before deciding that your baby doesn't like it. If you give a spoonful of a food you believe your baby doesn't like at the beginning of the meal daily for at least a week, your baby will start to enjoy this food. You don't need to insist your baby has more than a spoonful when you start.

By a year of age, your baby should be having much the same food as the rest of the family, so the infant feeding schedule in the second six months of life is preparing your baby for your family food.

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When can I give my baby lumpy foods?

Finely pureed meat and chicken can be given from 6 to 7 months of age once your baby is used to solids.

Mashed food and finger foods, like a rusk or toast, can also be given at 6 - 7 months of age. Always watch your baby when he is feeding finger foods as he could choke.

By 8 to 9 months of age, your baby will be able to have lumpier food, so that finely chopped, rather than pureed, meat and vegetables can be added to the infant feeding schedule.

You can also start giving drinks in a baby cup at about 8 - 9 months of age.

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When do I start to give solids before the milk?

Once your baby is 8 or 9 months, you can give solids first before milk. Give finger foods as this will encourage him to learn to feed himself.

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Are there any foods I should avoid giving my baby in the first 12 months?

Yes. Foods that should be avoided in the infant feeding schedule include:

  • honey before age 6 months
  • cow's milk before age 12 months - so the usual milk you drink. Before 12 months of age, babies need breast milk or baby formula
  • fruit juice before age 6 months

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When should I start dairy products?

Dairy products include cheese, yoghurt and ice cream. They can be started after your baby is weaned so after 6 months of age.

If there is a history of allergy in the family, it has been previously suggested that the introduction of some foods, like eggs and cheese, should be delayed even up to 12 months of age. However, studies have not shown that there is clear benefit in doing this and we now advise that these foods are in the diet well before 12 months of age.

So if you are concerned about your baby getting eczema, avoid dairy (cheese, yoghurt, ice cream) products in the first 6 months of life completely, and gradually introduce them after that.

For more information on food allergies, click here.

Remember, do not give normal cow's milk before 12 months of age.

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When should I start egg?

Egg yolk (yellow) can be started once your baby is having a variety of foods, so usually by 7-8 months of age.

If there is a history of allergy in the family, it has been previously suggested that the introduction of some foods, like eggs and cheese, should be delayed even up to 12 months of age. However, studies have not shown that there is clear benefit in doing this.

So if you are concerned about your baby getting eczema, avoid eggs in the first 6 months of life, and start with egg yolk (yellow) after 7-8 months of age but before 12 months of age.

For more information on food allergies, click here.

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When should I introduce peanut containing foods?

If there is no history of allergy, then introduce peanut-containing foods once your child is weaned and it is appropriate for your family

If there is a history of allergy, or your child has eczema or egg allergy, current advice is for early introduction of peanut to try and prevent your child developing allergy.

  • For mild to moderate eczema, introduce peanut-containing foods at 4-6 months when your baby is weaned
  • For severe eczema and/or egg allergy, introduce peanut-containing foods between 4 and 11 months but before your child is one year of age

What are the key points of the infant feeding schedule?

In summary, the infant feeding schedule in the first year is

  • milk (either breast or baby formula) only until 4 months
  • weaning onto solids from 4 - 6 months of age
  • pureed foods first - fruits, vegetables, baby rice (use wholemeal/wholegrain varieties)
  • mashed food and baby rice (use wholegrain/wholemeal varieties) by 6 - 7 months
  • chopped food and drinks in baby cups by 8 - 9 months
  • no fruit juice or honey before 6 months of age
  • no cow's milk before 12 months of age

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References

  • Ministry of Health, New Zealand. Eating for Healthy Babies and Toddlers 0 -2 years. June 2006. http://www.moh.govt.nz/childhealth
  • AAP Committee on Nutrition. The Use and Misuse of Fruit Juice in Pediatrics. Pediatrics. May 2001. 107(5): 1210-1213
  • Filipiak B et al. Solid Food Introduction in Relation to Eczema: Results from a Four-Year Prospective Birth Cohort Study. Journal of Pediatrics. August 2007. 10.1016/j.jpeds.2007.05.018
  • NIAID. Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States. 2016 addendum
  • ASCIA Infant Feeding Advice
  • WhiteOut campaign

To read about the infant feeding schedule before solids, click here

To read about food after 12 months of age, click here

To go to the Newborn Baby page, click here

To go to the Growing page, click here

To return to the Home page, click here


Last reviewed 18 March 2016

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Dr Maud MD

Dr Maud MD (MBChB, FRACP, FRCPCH), a specialist pediatrician, provides health information and medical advice for parents of babies and toddlers. Read more about Dr Maud.



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