Updated: Jun 2
Your baby needs a variety of food textures and practice before they can eat the same food as the rest of the family. Including a variety of food textures when introducing solids is important as it helps them learn how to chew, aids speech development and encourages your child to accept different textures. Babies need practice before they can eat family foods.
Delaying texture progression can cause fussy eating habits that may continue throughout life. So here we break down texture by age but remember, every baby is different, so it’s important to let them guide you. Our Dietitian Expert Shae Rickards from Bellamy's Organic provides recommendations on when to start solids.
When to start solids
Birth - around 6 months old
During the first six months of life, babies rely entirely on liquids for their nutritional needs. Whether breastmilk or formula, these liquids provide all the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and development.
6-7 months old
Given your baby has only had milk for the first six months of their lives, it makes sense that the first food offered in the beginning should be pureed and mashed. Every baby is different, though, so whilst some may prefer pureed foods, others may be happy to begin with semi-solid or finger foods.
Examples of pureed foods to start with include:
Iron-fortified baby cereal
Pureed, well-cooked meat, chicken or fish (no bones)
Pureed cooked legumes
Soft-cooked vegetables, including potato, pumpkin, carrot and broccoli
Soft-cooked fruit – apple or pear
Finely mashed soft fruit – banana, mango or avocado
Full-fat yoghurt, Soft cheese and custard
Foods of various textures and thicknesses can be gradually introduced after your baby is taking well to eating.
If you do start with pureed foods, increase the texture to mashed and soft pieces over a couple of weeks. This will help your baby to be exposed to a variety of textures and encourage chewing. You can also use a combination of textures in one meal. But don’t combine textures in one mouthful, as your baby won’t be ready for the texture change.
When giving food with lumps, your baby may spit it out or even gag the first few times. This does not mean they are not ready; they just need to keep practising!
Once your baby has mastered each texture, increase to minced and chopped, these are foods that have been roughly mashed or crumbled. There may be a combination of different-sized lumps which are obvious and prominent. Even babies without teeth can manage these foods – all they need is practice!
Types of minced and chopped foods for babies starting solids include:
Minced or finely chopped meat or chicken
Mashed or diced vegetables
Chopped soft raw fruit such as melon and banana
Yoghurt with soft lumps
Bread soaked in casserole juices
Soft scrambled eggs or soft-boiled eggs
Offer a variety of foods for your baby to practice eating in different sizes and textures.
8-12 months old
By eight months, most babies can manage solid finger foods. These are foods that can be picked up and require some chewing. Babies enjoy picking up food with their hands and eating by themselves. These foods break down easily into small pieces in the mouth when chewing.
Examples of solid finger food for babies include:
Bread or toast cut into strips
Cooked pasta shapes
Squares of soft cheese
Soft-cooked green beans
Strips of well-cooked meat and chicken
Tuna in water
Chopped soft fruit like banana or strawberry
Sticks of cooked vegetables like pumpkin or potato
12 months old and onwards
By the time your baby is 12 months old, they should eat the same solid foods that the rest of the family eats. These may contain more than one consistency. You might still need to chop some foods into smaller pieces and cook vegetables until soft. Remember, small hard foods such as whole nuts, raw carrots or apple pieces should not be given to children under three years old.
Examples of family foods include:
Casserole (meat and sauce)
Roast meat and vegetables
Pasta or stir fry
Dry cereal with milk
Vegetable or noodle soup
Cooked vegetables or salad
If your child is having difficulty progressing through textures, talk to your child's health nurse or GP. You may be referred to a dietitian or speech/language specialist for further help.
Babies can be adventurous eaters, so let them have time to explore and develop at their own pace. Enjoy watching them quickly learn to manage food of different textures. Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t take much when they are starting solids; they need lots of practice!
Shae teaches all things starting solids at our Starting Solids and Infant Sleep Masterclass and as part of our Parenting Portal - your expert guide to parenthood. This article was written by Shae Rickards our Dietitian Expert from Bellamy's Organic.
National Health and Medical Research Council. (2013). Eat for Health – Infant Feeding Guidelines Information for Health Workers. Available from: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/infant-feeding-guidelines-information-health-workers