First foods for babies nz

Introducing solids » Plunket

Feeding between three and six months

Milk (breast or formula) provides your baby with all the nutrition they need to grow and develop in the first six months.  

At around three months of age, your baby might start making more saliva and putting their fists or toys in their mouth, or experience a growth spurt and want to feed more often. These are part of normal development rather than signs that they’re ready for solid food.  

Solid food shouldn’t be introduced too early because babies aren’t physically or developmentally ready for it. 

Some of the reasons are:  

  • your baby may feel full and not drink enough milk to grow well 
  • they can’t coordinate their swallowing to cope with solid food 
  • their kidneys and digestion aren’t well-enough developed to cope with solid foods 
  • they may be more likely to get eczema, asthma, food allergies, respiratory infections.  

Feeding between six and 12 months

For the first six months or so, babies use iron stored in their bodies from when they were in the womb. They also get some iron from breastmilk and/or infant formula. But as they grow, a baby’s iron stores decrease, and by around six months old, they can’t get all the iron their bodies need from breastmilk or formula alone. That’s why it’s important to start introducing solids when your baby shows interest in solid foods, normally when they’re around six months old. 

Like the Ministry of Health, we recommend you continue breast- or bottle-feeding your baby - in addition to feeding them solids - until they’re one year or older. 

If you’re breastfeeding, by this time your breasts may feel softer, or not feel so full. This is normal, because by now your breasts and milk supply have settled and become more efficient. It doesn’t mean your supply is reduced. You can be confident your baby’s getting enough milk if: 

  • they’re sucking and swallowing well when on the breast  
  • feeding regularly 
  • having plenty of wet nappies with pale-coloured wee 
  • growing well.   

By six months old, your baby may get distracted by voices and noise while feeding, and might regularly come off the breast, or spit out the bottle, to look around. This is totally normal.  

If your baby was born prematurely, they may not be ready for solid food at around six months. Your baby’s paediatrician or Plunket nurse can help you work out when to start offering your baby solid food, and will give you the information you need. 

Signs your baby is ready for solid food

Your baby may be ready for solid food if they: 

  • seem hungry after breast or formula feeds
  • can hold their head up well, and can sit upright when supported
  • are interested in watching you eat - they reach out, open their mouth when you’re eating, and put their hands and toys in their mouth 
  • make chewing movements 
  • easily open their mouth when you touch their lip with a spoon or bring food to their mouth, and their tongue doesn’t push the food out 
  • move food to the back of their mouth and swallow.  

If your baby's hungry, they might:  

  • get excited when they see you getting food ready  
  • lean towards you while sitting in the highchair  
  • open their mouth as you're about to feed them. 

Signs your baby isn't interested include: 

  • turning their head away 
  • shutting their mouth when you offer food 
  • losing interest or getting distracted 
  • pushing the spoon away.  

If your baby is nearing seven months and hasn’t started solids, you might like to get some advice from your Plunket nurse or GP. 

Your baby’s food preferences

Every baby is different, and it’s fun getting to know what sort of food your baby likes. Some babies will devour solid foods as soon as they’re given them, while others prefer to have just breast milk or formula for longer. Some babies eat everything offered, and others have clear likes and dislikes. 

Don’t worry too much about your baby’s food preferences. Keep offering a range of nutritious foods so they can learn to enjoy a variety of food tastes and textures. 

When to introduce your baby’s first solid foods

Choose a time when both of you are relaxed, like around lunchtime or early afternoon.  

When babies are really hungry, they just want the breastmilk or formula they know will satisfy their hunger, so start by breast or bottle feeding your baby. They’ll still have room to try new foods after they’ve had a feed of breastmilk or formula.

Wattie's guide to baby feeding

Stage One solids (around six months)


Breastmilk or infant formula is still the most important food. Offer your baby breastmilk or formula before solid foods.  

Between six and 12 months, breastmilk, infant formula or water are the only liquids your little one needs.  

Food texture 

Make a very smooth and runny mixture using breastmilk, water or infant formula. 

Solid foods to try 

  • Iron-fortified infant cereal or baby rice, mixed as directed, or pureed plain cooked rice.
  • Cooked and pureed fruit: apple, pawpaw, apricot, peach, mango, pear, plum (with no seeds, skins or pips).
  • Uncooked mashed banana, avocado. 
  • Cooked and pureed vegetables without skins, seeds or pips, like kumara, potato, carrot, taro, pumpkin, kamokamo, marrow, cassava, manioke(a), parsnip or yam. 
  • Cooked and pureed meat like beef, lamb, pork, chicken or fish. Your baby now needs extra iron to grow well. Lamb’s liver is a good source of iron, but it’s best only to offer liver once a week. 
  • Cooked and pureed vegetarian alternatives like hummus, baked beans, lentils, soaked and cooked dried beans and peas.  
  • Pre-packaged baby foods in cans, jars and packets suitable for your baby’s age. 


  • Offer one or two teaspoons of slightly warm solid foods. 
  • Offer a variety of purées with different tastes, including naturally sweet, savoury and bitter flavours.
  • From around six months of age, babies can eat increasingly thick puréed, mashed and soft foods. Soft foods are those that can be easily squashed between your thumb and forefinger or on the roof of your mouth with your tongue.
  • If your baby refuses a food, offer another food instead, but try the food they refused again in a few days. It can take up to ten tastes before your baby may like a new food. 
  • Gradually increase how much and how often you give solid food. Let your baby’s appetite guide you. 
  • Gradually increase the thickness and how lumpy the food is. 
  • Your baby shouldn’t have salt, sugar or butter added to the food. 
  • Do not offer coffee, tea or alcohol.

Stage Two solids (from seven to eight months)


Breastmilk or formula is still the most important food. Offer milk before solid food. Your baby may enjoy drinking water. 

Food texture 

Thick puree, small soft lumps, or mashed. 

Try these foods 

Once your baby is eating a good variety of the foods from stage one, try: 

  • mashed fruit, cooked to soften if necessary before mashing 
  • mashed, cooked vegetables, offering a variety of different coloured veges. Be sure to remove stalks and stringy bits from leafy green vegetables like puha, spinach, and bok choy 
  • dairy products like cheese, yoghurt, cottage cheese and custard 
  • toast (white or fine wholemeal), and rusks 
  • cooked and mashed pasta and noodles 
  • tofu, tempeh
  • cooked and mashed egg.  


  • Try mixing foods with a range of tastes. Mixing less popular foods in with ones your baby really likes may encourage your wee one to accept a wider variety of food. 
  • Move towards three meals a day. 

Stage Three solids (from eight to nine months)


Your baby can have solid foods before their breast or formula feeds. It’s great for your baby to have water during the day as well.  

Water helps keep: 

  • babies hydrated 
  • poo soft (avoiding constipation), and 
  • teeth and gums nice and healthy.   

Food texture 

Your baby may now be interested in lots of different foods and textures. Try minced, mashed, grated, and finely chopped foods. 

Try adding in: 

  • fruits – add raw fruit as finger food, like oranges, kiwifruit, pineapple, and berry fruit 
  • vegetables, including salad veges 
  • meat, shellfish, kai moana 
  • cereals like porridge, wheat biscuits (iron fortified), or infant muesli 
  • peanut butter (smooth).  

Wait until your baby’s one year old before offering cow’s milk. 

Avoid small, hard and round foods like popcorn, nuts, grapes and berries because they can make your baby choke. Stay with your baby when they’re eating and encourage them to sit down to eat to avoid choking.  


Your baby might enjoy foods they can hold (finger foods). 

  • Try pieces of soft ripe fruit, cooked vegetable pieces, grated cheese, toast, and small pieces of soft meat. 

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Related topics

Baby – starting solids | Health Navigator NZ

Starting your baby on solids can be an exciting, fun and interesting time. Your baby will be learning new tastes and textures and you can help them enjoy this by knowing what to introduce when.

When should you start feeding your baby solids?

Your baby may be ready to start on solid food at around 6 months of age. They are likely to show signs that they are ready to start solids, such as they:

  • seem hungry after breast milk or formula feeds
  • can hold their head up well
  • are interested in watching you eat, eg, reach out, open their mouth when you’re eating and put their hands and toys in their mouth
  • make chewing movements
  • easily open their mouth when you touch their lip with a spoon or bring food to their mouth, and don’t stick their tongue forward to push the food out.

Starting solids: key messages

Around 6 months, your baby starts to need the extra vitamins and minerals (especially iron and zinc) that are in solid foods, but breast milk and/or formula are still important.  

What foods when starting solids?

Knowing which foods to feed your baby and when can help you make the transition from a milk-only diet to solids with confidence. 

What food at around 6 months?

When starting solids at around 6 months of age, start with one food at a time, and add a new food every 2-4 days. Start with 1-2 teaspoons once a day, and slowly increase. 

What food from 7 to 8 months?

By the time your baby is around 7 or 8 months old, you can include more variety and texture. Try mixing less popular foods in with more popular ones to encourage your baby to accept a wide variety of foods.  

What food from 8 to 12 months?

By the time your baby is 12 months, they're ready to eat a little of what the rest of the family is eating. 

Keeping baby safe when eating

Safety is important when your baby is eating. An adult needs to stay close and watch to deal with any problems like choking or a reaction to food. Never leave your baby alone with food.

Best drinks for babies

The best drink for babies from birth to 6 months is breast milk (or formula, if breast milk is unavailable). Breastfed babies don't need anything but breast milk for their first 6 months. 

Some babies may not be ready for solids at 6 months, eg, if your baby was born prematurely. It’s important not to introduce solid food too early. If you do, your baby may not get enough milk and other nutrients they need to grow well and their digestion will not be developed enough to cope with solid foods.

Image: Canva

Continue breastfeeding 

As your baby starts eating other foods, breast milk is still an important part of their diet. Your baby will still need breast milk (or infant formula) until they are at least 12 months old. The best drinks for your baby are breast milk (or infant formula) and water. Don't give them other types of drinks.

Until your baby is 8–9 months old, it’s best to give them breast milk (or infant formula) before solid food. That way they’ll get all the milk they need to grow well.

Continuing to breastfeed while you introduce solids may help prevent allergic reactions to some foods.  Use breast milk or formula as their main drink until your baby is 12 months old.

How to introduce solids at about 6 months

Eating solid food is a new experience for your baby. Here are some things to consider when starting solids.

  • Offer solids when your baby is most relaxed and happy.
  • Hold your baby while you feed them or sit them in a baby high chair.
  • Use a small teaspoon and put the food in the middle of their tongue.   
  • Start with small amounts – a half to 2 teaspoons at first, then slowly increase the amount until your baby is having about 3–4 teaspoons at a meal.
  • Your baby may spit out their first solid foods as they learn to get the food to the back of their mouth to swallow it. Be patient and give them time.
  • Try one new food every 2–4 days. If they don't like the food the first time, wait a few days and try again with a smaller amount.
  • Throw away any uneaten food left on your baby's plate.

Types of foods

Your baby’s first foods need to be plain, smooth and soft. Babies like the plain taste of milk, so first foods also need to be plain. Don't add salt, sugar or other sweeteners, soy sauce, cream, butter or margarine to your baby's food.

Don't give your baby honey. It may contain bacteria that can make young babies sick. Homemade food can be frozen in ice cube trays and used in the next 3–4 weeks. 

The following are examples of the best solid foods to start feeding your baby. To puree baby's food, use a blender or push food through a fine sieve. 

 Food   How to prepare

Cereal or rice

Use iron-fortified baby rice or infant cereal. Ensure the cereal you choose is suitable for your baby's age. Prepare the cereal using breastmilk or infant formula as per the instructions on the package. You can also puree plain cooked rice or feed your baby congee.   


Cook and puree vegetables. Remove skins on vegetables such as kumara, potato and pumpkin. Legumes such as peas, lentils and chickpeas must be well cooked and pureed.  


Remove the skins, pips or seeds from fruit. Puree the fruit. Cook to soften if needed.   


You can introduce cooked and pureed chicken, fresh fish, lamb, beef or pork. Do not give salty meat such as corned beef or tinned fish as first foods.     

From 7 to 8 months

As your baby gets used to eating solids, you can introduce different types and textures of food, such as mashed foods and finger foods. Your baby is likely to show signs that they are ready for these changes if they:

  • can sit without support
  • are learning to bite and chew
  • can pick up and bring food to their mouth
  • can keep thick puree's in their mouth.

Types of foods

 Food   How to prepare
Dairy You can introduce soft cheese such as cottage cheese, custard and plain yoghurt (without added sugar). 
Vegetables and fruits Introduce mashed well-cooked vegetables and fruit. Mash cooked legumes. Remove stalks and 'stringy bits' from foods like silverbeet, puha and bok choy.
Meats Continue to puree cooked chicken, fish, lamb beef or pork.
Finger foods You can offer finger foods in pieces that can be easily picked up by your baby, such as very soft fruit and vegetables (ripe banana, well-cooked pumpkin), toast fingers and thin slices of cheese.

Between 8 and 12 months

Give your baby solids before their milk feeds. Your baby may be ready for more textures and lumpy foods.  

Your baby is likely to show signs that they are ready for these changes if they:

  • are learning to crawl or can pull themselves up to stand
  • can bite well and chew soft lumps
  • are interested in a range of foods and textures
  • want to try eating by themselves with need some help from you.

Types of foods

 Food   How to prepare
Dairy Add chopped fruit to yoghurt or custard.
Cereal Offer breakfast cereal such as porridge, wheat biscuits and infant muesli.
Vegetables and fruits Try mashed vegetables mixed with minced or finely chopped tender cooked meat, chicken, fish, egg or lightly mashed cooked legumes. You can also add chopped up noodles, pasta or whole rice.   
Firmer finger foods Introduce slightly firmer finger foods such as:
  • soft ripe fruit or soft cooked vegetables such as kiwifruit or kumara
  • finely grated raw carrot and apple
  • toast fingers
  • puffed crispbread.

Learn more

Eating for healthy babies and toddlers HealthEd, Ministry of Health, NZ
Baby's first foods Plunket, NZ
Let your baby guide you – feeding your baby solids Health Promotion Agency, NZ
What are good first foods for my baby? Healthy Kids, NZ


  1. Feeding your baby Ministry of Health, NZ

Cara Hafner is a Registered Nurse and Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) with an extensive background in maternal-child nursing as a postnatal nurse and public health nurse. She currently works as the Baby Friendly Advisor for the New Zealand Breastfeeding Alliance, which administers the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative for maternity services in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Baby's first meal

Victoria Levchuk© Baby's first meal

What is baby's first meal? Breast milk/adapted formula or solid food? Let's try to understand this issue.

Breast milk or formula is given to a child for about the first six months of his life, it is very difficult to attribute these products to food, because it is both food and drink for the child at the same time. Although, with artificial feeding, the child is supplemented with water so that there is no constipation, since the mixture is more high-calorie than breast milk and cannot adapt to the current needs of the child. Traditionally, when they say the first meal of a child, they mean solid food or complementary foods.

Many mothers wonder when and how to start complementary feeding. Most mothers face very different opinions from pediatricians about when to start complementary foods and what foods to start with. Baby's first meal has been a hot topic of discussion lately.

And baby food labels often mislead parents: “From the fourth month, from the fifth month…”

Complementary foods

The World Health Organization, based on the latest research in this area, recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. From the beginning of the seventh month, you can start introducing solid foods into complementary foods.

Continued breastfeeding is recommended at least until the end of the first year and for as long as mother and child wish.

Signs that the baby is ready for complementary foods, starting from the sixth month, are the child's interest in food from the common table, an increased need for food that does not go away even if the baby often breastfeeds, and other signs that are described in more detail here.

If the baby is at increased risk of developing allergies, for example when one or both parents have allergies, it is very important not to start complementary foods before the sixth month and unless the baby shows signs of being ready to wean.

Milk, dairy products and egg whites should generally be avoided during the first year, whether or not the parents are allergic, as they are a source of foreign proteins that can lead to allergies.

It is very important to pay attention to the sources of "hidden" dairy products, many baby food manufacturers add them to baby purees and cereals.

Boiled egg yolk can be given from 10-12 months of age. It would be useful to introduce fish into the complementary foods of a child after 10 months, but closer to 12 months. Vegetables that are moderately allergic are best introduced into complementary foods for a child after a year. It is also better to start giving fish and meat broths after 12 months.

Sunflower oil can be used instead of olive oil (possible kidney damage).

It is also important to limit the amount of sugar in baby food. The first meal of the child does not provide sugar and salt. Sugar only provides the child with empty calories, and reduces the appetite for other nutritious foods. The habit of eating with too much or too little sugar or salt is born during the introduction of complementary foods.

By limiting the amount of sugar or salt in the child's diet now, parents help the child eat less sweets and salty, and therefore eat more balanced foods in the future, thereby protecting him from diabetes and obesity!

first complementary foods

There is no rule governing the order in which each dietary group is included in a child's diet. Depending on the needs of the child and circumstances, certain foods are introduced, in other cases it is preferable to start complementary foods with cereal porridge or vegetable puree. The only things that are "off" in a child under one year old are honey (risk of botulism), salt (may cause kidney problems), sugar (risk of obesity) and whole cow's milk because it provides a high protein load on the kidneys. All other products parents can give the child after 6 months.

The main thing is to try every new food for some time to see if the baby reacts to it, if there is an allergy. Approximately the first 10 products are introduced into complementary foods for about 4-7 days each, and then for 3-5 days. But to follow the rule of waiting or not, the decision of the parents themselves, consultation of the pediatrician is obligatory. Parents do not refuse products that the child has already tried, a full-fledged balanced menu for the child is gradually being formed from them.

It is also important to note that the introduction of foods into a child's complementary foods depends on from seasonality , for example, it is better to start feeding with fresh vegetables, in their growing season. The area of ​​residence and traditions also play a role in the introduction of complementary foods, for example, if in America they start complementary foods with avocados or mangoes, for them these products are always sold fresh, the whole family traditionally eats them and is not going to refuse them. It’s a little inappropriate for us to start complementary foods with avocados and mangoes, these products are imported and how they were brought to the consumer, whether they were treated with chemicals for ripeness and preservation, is not known, so it’s better to use zucchini or an apple that grows in the nearest village or farm.

It is also important to consider the tastes and preferences of the whole family and the mother personally , since the example of a mother is more important than a thousand offered plates, if a mother, offering mashed potatoes, twists her face, or shows a negative attitude towards food, then the child most likely will not try it. For the most part, this is a defense mechanism created by nature. If at the initial stage you can introduce the baby to zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower, because it is healthy, hypoallergenic, then later, when the diet expands, you should think many times before offering things not used by the family instead of the main important foods. It makes sense to introduce the whole family to lentils and feed them once every three weeks, but it makes no sense to introduce them into complementary foods for a child, and never eat them ourselves.

Therefore, many products introduced into complementary foods for a child should appear on the adult table periodically, parents show an example of the use of these products. As I wrote and will write, if it doesn’t taste good to you, then there simply wasn’t a way to prepare this product.

Ready-made commercial cans have the advantage that they are generally well controlled by the government and are made from pure ingredients. However, they are practical and quick to use, especially when helpers are not available, which is why many mothers prefer them for their baby's first meal.

However, they are also very expensive and another disadvantage is that they often contain many different ingredients and are not suitable for the gradual introduction of solid foods.

Another option is to make your own baby food, boil vegetables and fruits and grind them in a blender. It is important here that the ingredients come from a controlled ecological culture and are as pure and fresh as possible.
Whichever option parents choose, remember: there are many products on the market that are not needed for complementary foods for the first three years of life, such as chocolate products! It requires attention and critical thinking.

A child's first meal is an important gift that will be useful for the rest of his life, the first step towards a healthy diet rich in discoveries and tastes.

Nutrition for children up to a year - Healthy Russia

By the age of six months, the child gets acquainted with the first "adult" food. What and how to feed the baby at this age?

By six months, your baby is ready to start eating more than just breast milk or formula. At this age, the child gets acquainted with the first "adult" food. Tatyana Borovik, Head of the Department of Healthy and Sick Child Nutrition at the Scientific Center for Children's Health of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, tells about what products are used to feed children under one year old.

Is it possible "out of a jar"?

Despite the fact that baby gets his first complementary food with a spoonful of in the truest sense of the word, even this amount of cooking can be difficult for parents. After all, it is necessary to buy high-quality and absolutely fresh products, cook them in compliance with all hygiene standards, grind them to the desired consistency, and even so that all important vitamins remain in the food.

Infant nutrition

Find out when your baby should start eating complementary foods, how to introduce them correctly and where to start.

In most cases, ready-to-cook food products make life easier for parents and provide the baby with all the nutrients.


Grain complementary foods - porridge - one of the main sources of carbohydrates, vegetable proteins and fats, dietary fiber, iron, selenium, vitamins B1, B2 and PP. Grain-based complementary foods should start at gluten-free (gluten-free) cereals: rice, buckwheat, later corn. Porridges can be dairy or dairy-free, depending on what suits your baby. Dairy-free porridges are diluted with breast milk or infant formula received by the child. In the future, if the baby has no problems with digestion, you can start using gluten-containing cereals: oatmeal, barley, wheat, semolina and cereals from a mixture of cereals.


Vegetable puree is a source of potassium, iron, dietary fiber, including pectins, and other useful substances. Certain types of vegetables - carrots, pumpkin, spinach - are rich in carotene , which in the body turns into vitamin A, which is necessary for the normal growth and development of the child. At the beginning of the introduction of complementary foods , vegetable puree should consist of one type of vegetable with delicate fiber, such as zucchini. Further, it is advisable to use a combination of 3-4 vegetables.

Protein products

Children up to one year of age should be fed gradually cottage cheese and egg yolk — valuable sources of animal protein and fat, calcium, and vitamin B2. Meat contains complete animal protein, which in beef, lean pork, rabbit meat, chicken, chicken, turkey, horse meat contains up to 20-21 percent. The meat contains well-digestible so-called heme iron, magnesium, zinc, as well as vitamins B1, B2, B6 and B12. Puree from dietary meat in the diet is recommended to be introduced to children older than 6 months. Fish is a complete source of protein and fat, it contains Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamins B2, B12 and minerals. Fish is introduced into the diet of children from 8–9 months with caution, carefully observing whether the child has signs of intolerance. It is used once or twice a week instead of a meat dish.

Juices and fruit purees

Juices contain natural sugars - glucose, fructose, sucrose and organic acids - malic, citric, which have a positive effect on digestion. In addition, they are rich in potassium, which in most juices is up to 150 mg per 100 ml, and contains up to 2 mg of iron per 100 ml. Vitamin C, citric acid, individual minerals, and natural fruit flavors can be additionally added to industrial juices. The first baby should be given apple or pear juice , which are traditional for Russia and rarely cause allergic reactions.


Breastfeeding? We tell you how to prepare for feeding, how to avoid possible difficulties, and how a nursing mother should eat.

Fruit purees are similar in composition and nutritional value to fruit juices, especially those containing pulp. At the same time, they contain sugars, organic acids and dietary fiber in greater quantities than juices.

Dairy products

Despite the fact that cow's milk is an excellent food for an adult, rich in valuable protein and calcium, it is not suitable for feeding children under one year old . After all, human and cow's milk are two completely different products. For example, cow's milk has 2.5 times more protein than women's milk, and a baby does not need such a large amount of protein yet. For the same reason, fermented milk products for baby food (baby kefir, yoghurts) can be introduced into the child's diet no earlier than 8 months of age. And in an amount of not more than 200 ml per day.

About water

The largest amount of water - about 85 percent - is found in breast milk and infant formula. The composition of "solid" food - bread, cereal, mashed potatoes - includes 30 percent of water. So the liquid for the baby at the stage of introducing complementary foods is quite enough. For drinking and preparing formulas and complementary foods, it is best to use special bottled water for baby food . It is bacteriologically safe, does not contain harmful chemical and radioactive substances, does not require boiling.

Rules for the introduction of each new product

The introduction of each new product starts with a small amount, gradually increasing it. It makes sense to give a new product in the morning - in order to note a possible reaction to it. It is better to start introducing cereals, fruit and vegetable juices and purees into the baby’s menu from single-component dishes in order to know exactly how and what the body reacts to. Complementary foods are given from a spoon before breastfeeding or formula.

Learn more