Stage 1| 4-6 months – Smooth purees.
Baby should be holding head up well without assistance, possibly able to close mouth around spoon, losing the tendency to push food out with tongue. There is no rush to start solid foods – babies at this age still need formula or breast milk as their primary source of nutrition. Giving solid foods at this age is mainly for practice, especially if they are showing signs of interest in solid food.
Stage 2| 7-9 months – Coarse purees/ mashed/finely chopped.
Baby should be able to sit up in high chair without assistance and show interest in solid foods before serving coarse purees/mashed foods. Baby should be able to pick up objects with thumb and forefinger (pincer grasp) and move jaws in a chewing motion for finely chopped foods.
Stage 3| 10-15 months – Diced/bite-sized finger foods. Baby should be able to pick up objects with pincer grasp, be able to bite/chew and swallow foods more easily, and possibly start to use a spoon independently. You can begin to serve more complex foods now – casseroles and more diverse food combinations. Beware, however, that babies at this age may still want ingredients served separately.
Stage 4| Toddlers 15-30 months – This is an exciting time in feeding your baby, who has now reached most eating-related milestones and has passed most tests of food allergy. This is the time when you can start to introduce familiar foods in some new and fun ways.
This is also a time (around 18-24 months) when your baby may start to develop strong preferences or dislikes of foods. Most of these will come and go in phases of a few days to a few weeks.
The important thing to remember is to keep baby’s diet as balanced as possible (it is OK if she refuses to eat broccoli but happily accepts spinach or cauliflower) and try not to let meal times become a battle of wills. Offer small amounts of 2-3 different foods at each meal, then allow more of the item baby favors at that meal when he or she has eaten all of that and is still hungry.
Do not force or try to trick your children into eating something they don’t want at this age. Just be sure that all of the options available are nutritious, and keep trying. Sometimes foods presented in a new way are better accepted, and sometimes our tastebuds change. What baby doesn’t like today, she may love tomorrow or next week.
See Nutrition Tips for ideas on how to get older toddlers and big kids to eat better foods.