Your baby can progress from soft smooth textured food to foods of different textures quite quickly. Gradually include coarse mash, grated, minced and finely chopped foods. At around nine months of age, foods can be of a soft diced texture.
You do not need to add any sugar or salt to your baby’s food, so if you are preparing the whole family’s vegetables or fruit take out the baby’s portion before adding any salt or sugar.
Preparing fruit and vegetables for your baby
- Wash your hands with soap thoroughly under running water.
- Ensure the bench is clean and utensils have been washed in hot soapy water.
- Wash vegetables or fruit.
- Peel (if required) and chop into small pieces.
- Place into a saucepan with a small amount of water. Or put a little water into a microwave safe bowl.
- Boil the water in the pot, once boiling, add the chopped vegetables.
- Gently simmer with a lid on or cook in the microwave until very soft. This may take about 10 minutes on the stove but you may have to experiment in the microwave to find the right amount of time.
- Allow to cool slightly and drain off the water.
- Place in a bowl and mash with a fork, hand blender or food processor until the food is soft and smooth. As your baby gets older (about 7 to 9 months), the texture should be lumpier.
- Mix with boiled water, breast milk, or formula until you reach the consistency your baby needs.
- Only put the amount of food you think your baby will eat in a bowl. Unused food should be discarded as the bacteria from your baby’s mouth can cause an upset tummy.
- If food is not to be eaten immediately, store in the fridge until needed (food can be kept in the fridge for 24 hours).
- Make sure food has cooled before feeding it to your baby. To test the temperature of the food, wash your hands thoroughly then put your finger in the food to check that it is not too hot for your baby. It’s best not to test the temperature by eating the food yourself as this may spread germs from you to your baby.
Any extra food that has been made can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for the next day or frozen for use within three months. It always a good idea to date food as you can forget when items were put in the fridge or freezer.
You can freeze extra food in ice-block trays. When these are frozen, the food can be transferred to plastic bags or containers in the freezer.
Frozen foods should be thawed in the refrigerator overnight or under cold water in an airtight plastic wrapper or bag, stirring the contents from time to time and changing the water every 30 minutes. Foods can also be thawed in a microwave oven, using the defrost setting.
If travelling, prepared food should be carried in an esky with an ice pack and on arrival at your destination placed in a refrigerator. Food should be used within four hours.
Finger foods are anything edible your baby can hold. They need to be in small sizes that are easily picked up by small hands.
Finger food suggestions
Breads and cereals
- Wholemeal toast with mashed avocado or mashed pumpkin on top
- Cooked pasta twists plain or with a tomato sauce
- Soft, cooked brown rice pressed into a small ball
- Rice cakes
- Italian bread sticks
- Set polenta
Fruits and vegetables
- Soft, ripe or cooked fruit wedges (e.g. banana, pear, peach, kiwifruit, rockmelon, mango)
- Peeled orange or mandarin with the flesh removed from the segments
- Grated apple or cooked peeled apple slices that are soft
- Dried fruit soaked in water until soft
- Soft, well-cooked cool vegetables (e.g. broccoli florets, cooked carrots, roasted sweet potato, zucchini, cooked asparagus spears)
- Avocado and cucumber cut into sticks
- Grated hard cheese
- Cheese cut into sticks
Meat, fish, poultry, eggs and legumes
- Small pieces of well cooked meats
- Small meat or chicken mince balls
- Cooked flaked fish removing any bones
- Scrambled egg yolks
- Firm tofu chunks
Infants are at an increased risk of choking. Food should be cut into small pieces and hard vegetables should be lightly cooked.
Babies and young children need to be sitting when eating and drinking to avoid choking.
Avoid giving your baby foods that don’t breakdown into small pieces easily. Foods that might cause choking include hard biscuits, raw apple (if not grated), uncooked carrots, uncooked celery, sausage skins, whole peas, corn, beans, whole grapes that have the skin still covering, nuts, popcorn, hard lollies, corn chips, small bones or gristle.
Foods not suitable for babies under 12 months of age
- Cows milk should not be used as the main drink for infants before the age of 12 months as it doesn’t have all of the vitamins and minerals that your baby needs to grow and develop.
- Cows milk has large amounts of protein, sodium and potassium which can be damaging to your baby’s kidneys.
- After 12 months of age, your baby can begin to have plain whole cows milk as a drink.
- Reduced-fat milks are not recommended for children under two years of age, as they need the fat for energy.
- Milo and flavoured milks are not recommended for young children as they contain large amounts of sugar.
- Small amounts of cows milk can be used when cooking your baby’s food from about nine months of age.
- Fruit juice is not recommended for babies. It is better for your baby to eat fruit.
- Soft drinks are very high in sugar and are not recommended. They also increase the risk of tooth decay.
- Giving babies tea and coffee is not advisable.
- It is recommended that honey is not given to children aged under 12 months of age as it may contain the spores of a type of bacteria that can cause a very serious illness (infant botulism) in babies. After 12 months of age, your baby is less susceptible to this bacterium.
Salt and sugar
- Do not add salt or sugar to your baby’s food.
- Processed foods, foods tinned in brine and snacks, such as chips, should be avoided due to high salt levels. Gravies and stock cubes not specifically for infants are also very high in salt. They should be used sparingly if infants are going to eat family foods containing them.
- Salt may damage your baby’s kidneys. Your baby will receive all the salt their body needs from breastmilk, formula or natural food sources.
- A high consumption of sugar and sugary foods can encourage a sweet tooth and lead to tooth decay when first teeth start to come through. Avoid sweet biscuits and rusks so infants don’t get into the habit of expecting sweet snacks, and limit the frequency of desserts.
- Low-fat foods are not suitable for children under two years of age.
High risk foods
- Do not feed these foods to infants: uncooked fermented meats (salami), raw or uncooked meat (particularly minced meat), poultry, fish and shellfish, and raw sprouts, such as alfalfa, clover and radish, due to the higher risk of food poisoning associated with these foods.
- To prevent salmonella poisoning, all eggs should be cooked well and products containing raw eggs should be avoided.
Want to know more?
The Raising Children Network – Baby nutrition: healthy eating
The Raising Children Network – Baby nutrition: solids and drinks