Weaning is a learning process and children will only learn to accept and enjoy new tastes and textures if they are given the opportunity to try them.
Progressing through the weaning stages
Skills to learn
New food textures to introduce
Begin by 6 months, but not before 4 months (17 weeks)
Taking food from a spoon
Moving food from the front of the mouth to the back for swallowing
Managing thicker purées and mashed food
6 to 9 months
Moving lumps around the mouth
Self-feeding using hands and fingers
Sipping from a cup
Mashed food with soft lumps
Soft finger foods
Liquids in a lidded cup
9 to 12 months
Chewing minced and chopped food
Self-feeding attempts with a spoon
Hard finger foods
Minced and chopped family foods
Adapted from Clinical Paediatric Dietetics 3rd ed. 2007
When your little one is confident eating solid food, a variety of foods from 4 food groups should be included every day so they get the full range of nutrients they need. Ideally these foods should be the nutritious family foods that they and the whole family will eat during their toddler years:
The 4 food groups are:
Starchy foods – potatoes, rice, oats, pasta and other cereals
Meat, fish, eggs, beans such as lentils, black and chick peas
Fruits and vegetables
Full fat yogurt and cheese. Full fat milk can also be used during cooking.
Which foods when?
4 to 6 months
Any of the following foods can be introduced as the first weaning food, but most mothers begin with cereal, root vegetables or fruit, mixed with their baby’s milk.
All cereals such as rice, oats, wheat and corn based
Lean meat, poultry or fish – well cooked
Eggs – well cooked
Lentils, hummus, chick peas and other beans
Plain cheese and yogurts
Grated cheese melted onto warm foods.
Begin with a runny purée for the first few tastes. Then move on to thicker purées or well-mashed food as your baby becomes used to taking food from a spoon.
6 to 9 months
You can include all the foods above, and in addition:
Liver – limit to one small serving per week because of high levels of vitamin A.
Mashed food with soft lumps and soft finger foods. Meat may still need to be puréed but can be mashed if it is very soft.
Examples of soft finger foods
Soft fruit pieces, e.g. mango, melon, banana, soft, ripe pear, peach, papaya and kiwi
Cooked vegetable sticks, e.g. carrot sticks, green beans, zucchini sticks, potato and sweet potato
Cooked vegetable pieces, e.g. cauliflower and broccoli florets
Sips of water from a cup at meal times – meals should end with a milk feeding or milk pudding
Well-diluted fruit juices from a cup, which aid iron absorption from vegetarian foods.
9 to 12 months
You can include all the foods above, and family foods that have been prepared without salt or sugar.
Minced and chopped foods, finger foods (such as raw fruit and vegetable sticks) and a variety of family foods, such as sandwiches or toast.
After 12 months of age
From the age of 1 year most toddlers can eat family foods, aiming for a balanced diet. This may include foods that are not recommended in infancy:
Foods preserved with salt, such as bacon and canned foods with added salt
Foods with added sugar – they should be offered only at meal times to avoid dental decay.
You can introduce full-fat cows’ milk into your toddler’s diet at 1 year. Semi-skimmed milk should not be introduced until 2 years of age.
Please be aware that the information given in these articles is only intended as general advice and should in no way be taken as a substitute for professional medical
advice. If you or your family or your child is suffering from symptoms or conditions which are severe or persistent or you need specific medical advice, please seek professional medical assistance.
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