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Starting solids – what’s the best first food for baby?

Best first food for babiesWhen your baby is approaching six months old you’ll probably start to notice the signs they’re ready for solid food.

And if they haven’t already pinched a handful of food from your plate, you’ll probably be wondering what food you should serve up for their first meal.

It is worth giving it a bit of thought – although it may not seem like it afterwards while you are cleaning it off your baby’s face, baby’s hands, baby’s eyebrows, your eyebrows, the highchair, the floor, the wall, the dog … you get my drift …

So what exactly are the best first foods for a baby? And what are the best ways to prepare them?

The best first foods for babies

The current recommendation* is that foods can be introduced in any order as long as iron-rich foods are included in baby’s first foods and they are a texture appropriate for the baby’s stage of development.

Some iron-rich first foods are:

  • cooked pureed meat, chicken, fish
  • cooked pureed tofu
  • cooked pureed beans, legumes, lentils
  • iron-fortified infant cereal

Other good first foods to include in baby’s diet

  • pear
  • apple
  • avocado
  • banana
  • sweet potato
  • carrot
  • pumpkin
  • peas
  • potato
  • apricot

How to prepare baby’s first food

Steaming/poaching/stewing

Steaming is the best way to cook vegetables for baby. Steaming retains maximum nutrients, as well as the natural colour, flavour, aroma and texture of the food. After steaming, you can use a stick blender or food processor to puree the vegetables, or you can cut into easy-to-hold pieces. Poaching is a good way to cook meat for babies. It helps to retain the moisture in the meat, which makes it easier to puree.  Hard fruits can be stewed – cooked in a small amount of water – before serving to baby.

Pureeing

If you are spoon-feeding then you should start with a runny smooth puree. As baby gets used to solid food you can move to a smooth mash, then a rough mash, but for first tastes it should be as fine as possible.

Finger food

You don’t have to puree your baby’s first food but it’s important to remember that, if you’re giving your baby finger food, it should still be of a texture appropriate for their stage of development. Steam hard vegetables until they’re soft enough to squish with your fingers then cut into pieces that will be easy for baby to hold. eg. try steamed carrot cut into chip-like sized sticks.

READ: You can read more about starting solids in our Starting Solids Hub

Other tips for baby’s first tastes of solid food

  • There’s no need to add salt or sugar to baby’s first food.
  • If feeding baby rice cereal add cool boiled water, breast milk or formula.
  • Baby’s first food will be only a teaspoon or two.
  • Invest in a good feeding spoon, a good soft shovel-shaped spoon will mean less mess and less waste.
  • Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t all get eaten, your baby is learning something very new
  • Don’t forgot to record this – there will be some priceless facial expressions!

*Infant Feeding Guidelines NHMRC 2012

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