Sitter baby food age

When to Start Stage 2 Baby Food

Categories: Babies, Nutrition, Tips / How-Tos

Your baby’s first 12 months of life are marked by milestone after milestone, from learning how to roll over, sit up and crawl to growing those first few baby teeth and experiencing “real” food for the very first time. One especially exciting milestone is the move away from simple Stage 1 purees into the more complex flavor and texture combinations of Stage 2 baby food.

This brief guide covers the highlights of this important dietary transition for your baby, including when to introduce Stage 2 baby food, which blends to serve first and how to know when it’s time to move on.

What is the Difference Between Stage 1 and Stage 2 Baby Food?

Baby food stages can be confusing because there’s no set standard for labeling these products. Different brands may use slightly different naming conventions (some even offer Stage 4!) and may list different recommended age ranges for each stage.

Regardless of branding or specific naming, however, the main difference between Stage 1 and Stage 2 baby food comes down to two key characteristics:

  1. Ingredients: Whereas Stage 1 baby foods are made from a single ingredient, Stage 2 baby foods blend two or more ingredients together. They may still have fruits and veggies as the primary ingredient, but Stage 2 foods often incorporate meats, legumes and grains as well.
  2. Texture: Stage 1 baby foods are very smoothly pureed and are soupy enough to drip off of a spoon, while Stage 2 foods may be roughly pureed, blended or strained. They maintain a thicker, denser consistency and may include small chunks for your baby to gum around in their mouth. 

Is My Baby Ready to Start Stage 2 Baby Food?

The move from Stage 1 to Stage 2 baby food will depend on your baby’s individual development. Because every baby develops on their own timeline, there is no hard-and-fast, one-size-fits-all “Stage 2 baby food age.” Instead, you can think of this transition as a natural continuation of your baby’s food journey, from first trying solid foods in Stage 1 to now exploring their full potential in combination purees.

Stage 1: Introducing Solids

Most babies start eating solid foods around 4–6 months, depending on when they show signs that they’re ready for solids:

  • Sitting up unassisted
  • Demonstrating steady head control
  • Losing the “extrusion reflex” (where the tongue pushes food forward in the mouth rather than back)
  • Expressing curiosity about what others are eating

While nutrition should still come from breast milk or formula during this time, Stage 1 foods are important for getting your baby used to the flavors, textures and sensation of food as well as identifying any allergies or sensitivities. 

Stage 2: Experimenting With Solids

After several months of Stage 1 single-ingredient purees, babies will start expressing readiness for the next phase in their eating journey: more kinds of food, thicker textures and larger portions. To know when to start Stage 2 baby foods, watch out for signs and milestones that may include:

  • Finishing a single-ingredient puree and seeming hungry for more
  • Being able to swallow Stage 1 foods without the tongue thrusting it immediately back out
  • Having tried a variety of Stage 1 purees in different food categories, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains
  • No signs or symptoms of allergies or intolerance to any of the Stage 1 purees

In terms of age, many babies start Stage 2 combo baby purees around 8 months, but try not to fret too much over the exact timeline. Just like with the introduction of Stage 1, your baby will let you know when they’re ready!

What are the Best Stage 2 Starter Foods?

As you move to Stage 2 baby food combinations, it’s best to start with ingredients that your baby already knows and accepts. For example, if your baby loves single-ingredient carrot purees, try offering a basic Stage 2 combination that serves up this vibrant veggie with something new. Not only does this help with acceptance, but it also helps ensure that your baby tolerates each new ingredient you introduce. To ease the transition, you can even mix some of the new Stage 2 combination into the old Stage 1 standby!

Once your child has adjusted to relatively mild blends like this, you can move on to more “grown up” ingredients like slightly bitter veggies (kale, anyone?) or stronger herbs and spices.

How Long Should My Baby Eat Stage 2 Baby Foods?

The window for Stage 2 foods typically lasts anywhere from 1–4 months, depending on when your baby started Stage 2 and when they show signs of readiness for Stage 3. For most babies, the transition to Stage 3 foods (also called “finger foods”) will occur around 10 months of age.

Signs of readiness for Stage 3 often center around an interest in self-feeding:

  • Pushing your hand away when you feed
  • Reaching for the spoon as you feed
  • Playing with plates or bowls at mealtime
  • Demonstrating greater hand-eye coordination
  • Mastering (or almost mastering!) the pincer grasp

Again, try not to worry about the exact date; your baby’s move to Stage 3 foods will happen whenever they’re developmentally ready. For more tips on moving beyond combination purees, check out our guide to transitioning to Stage 3 baby foods.

Wherever your baby is in their eating journey, it’s never too early to work toward developing a healthy, well-rounded diet that will last for a lifetime. If you have any questions about when to start Stage 2 baby food or how to more smoothly transition between stages, Nurture Life’s child nutrition experts would love to help. Just reach out to us at [email protected]!

Lara Field

Lara has been working with Nurture Life since its inception, collaborating with the culinary team on the creation of all menus and recipes to ensure they are nutritionally appropriate and correctly proportioned for every age and stage of a child’s development and providing pediatric nutrition expertise to Nurture Life customers. Lara is the owner/founder of FEED—Forming Early Eating Decisions, a nutrition consulting practice specializing in pediatric nutrition and digestive diseases. Lara has over a decade of experience in clinical practice at two of the top ranked pediatric hospitals in the country, Lurie Children’s Hospital and University of Chicago Medical Center. Lara received her B.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and M.S. and dietetic internship from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. Lara truly enjoys the process of eating (and feeding!), from procuring the ingredients at various grocery stores and farmers markets, to organizing her pantry/refrigerator at home to make it easy to select healthy options, to preparing balanced meals with her children. Whether it be a decadent treat to a hearty, home-cooked meal, there is no greater satisfaction for Lara than enjoying food with her family.

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When is a child ready to try a bit more texture?

Once your baby has mastered the art of slurping down smooth purees, it may be time to expand their culinary horizons with Stage 2 baby food. Your little gourmand isn’t quite ready to dine on a plate of spaghetti and meatballs just yet, but Stage 2 foods will give them the opportunity to sample new tastes, as well as consistencies. 

Think your baby is ready to graduate onto the next stage of baby food? Here, parents and experts weigh in on Stage 2 baby food. Bon appetit! 

What is Stage 2 baby food?

While the jarred Stage 2 baby food you find at the store is typically combinations of food (“sweet potato and chicken dinner”), it’s important to keep in mind this stage is more about the consistency of the food.

“While Stage 1 baby food is completely pureed, Stage 2 baby food has a bit more texture to it,” says Dr. Zulma Laracuente, a pediatrician in Alexandria, Louisiana. “The concept behind slowly transitioning baby from purees to thicker solids is to get them used to chewing and swallowing.”

Of course, every child develops at their own individual pace, so check with your child’s doctor for baby food recommendations during the first 12 months.

When to start Stage 2 baby food

The Stage 2 baby food age may vary based on when your infant started eating Stage 1 foods. The general age recommendation for Stage 1 baby food is between 4 and 6 months, so taking into consideration how long — and how well — your child has been eating these foods will help you determine if they’re ready to move up. According to Laracuente, babies are usually ready for Stage 2 between 6 and 8 months old — but make sure your little one has honed their Stage 1 skills before making the leap. 

“Once your baby has done well with Stage 1 solids and has tried multiple foods, it is safe to advance to Stage 2 baby food,” says Dr. Melanie Custer, a pediatrician at at West Bend Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. “These foods usually have multiple ingredients, including some spices and are thicker in consistency.” 

“These foods usually have multiple ingredients, including some spices and are thicker in consistency.” 


Signs baby is ready to start Stage 2 food

How do you know if your baby is nailing it with their Stage 1 foods and ready for the next step? Simply put, they’re eating and swallowing. 

“As your baby’s oral skills develop and improve, you can move on to Stage 2 foods, which are purees with small chunks and texture,” says Jenifer Thompson,  R.D., an advanced practice dietician at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. 

Thompson says in order to move on to Stage 2 foods, babies should be consistently taking the spoon in their mouth when you offer it to them, without spitting or pushing it back out. 

“Once my baby was no longer grimacing or letting his food dribble onto his chin, I knew we were ready to move onto Stage 2 foods,” says mom of two Darcy McConnell of Garwood, New Jersey. “I actually have no idea how old he was when we made the switch since I based it off of how well he was eating!”

What Stage 2 baby foods to start with

It’s important to expose your child to a number of foods, most of which are safe at this point. 

“By the time they are 7 to 8 months, babies should be eating a variety of foods from different food groups, including cereals, meat and other proteins, yogurt, cheese, vegetables and fruits,” says Thompson.

“Most foods can be prepared for any stage, so long as they’re texturally age-appropriate,” says Dr. Kristen Treegoob, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “When we think of Stage 2 baby food, we’re thinking of thicker purees with some mashable bits.”

Experts advise introducing as many different foods as possible during this stage of food development so your baby gets accustomed to them. 

“While bananas, applesauce and peaches are good options and most babies like them, as they are naturally sweet, it is also important to try other foods that aren’t as common and popular, such as beets, rhubarb and asparagus, so they develop a taste for them,” says Custer.   

Another thing to keep in mind is that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) no longer recommends delaying the introduction of allergenic foods, particularly peanuts. While it was once advised to wait until your baby was at least 10 months to introduce peanut-containing foods, the AAP now recommends giving babies with no known egg allergy or eczema, infant-safe forms of peanut between 4 to 6 months old. Babies with mild eczema should wait until at least 6 months, and for babies with severe eczema, speak to their doctor before giving them peanut-containing foods. (To find out if your baby has an egg allergy, they must be tested by their pediatrician.)

Which foods to avoid during Stage 2

Even though your little one is venturing into new food texture territory with Stage 2, you should still avoid giving them chunks and small pieces of food, which can pose a serious risk. (Food may be thicker at Stage 2, but it’s still all about the purees and mashes at this point.) 

“Infants may have any food that is texture-appropriate for their developmental feeding stage, but it’s important to stay away from choking hazards, such as whole grapes, nuts and seeds,” says Treegoob.

“Infants may have any food that is texture-appropriate for their developmental feeding stage, but it’s important to stay away from choking hazards, such as whole grapes, nuts and seeds.”


Also, avoid giving your baby honey — raw or cooked — before the age of 12 months, as it may cause a botulism infection.

And finally, when it comes to your baby’s beverage, steer clear of juice. The AAP recommends parents eschew juice, which has “no nutritional benefits over whole fruit,” until at least 1. “At this point, it’s best to stick with breast milk, formula or the odd bit of water (1 to 2 ounces a day), which is mainly for introducing your baby to the skill of using a sippy cup,” says Thompson. 

How to start Stage 2 foods safely

Baby should be sitting in a highchair when eating and never left alone. You’ll still be spooning food into your baby’s mouth at this point, but don’t be afraid to let your little one take a whirl at self-feeding in order to get in some practice using utensils.  

“At around 9 months, we started letting our son try his hand at feeding himself in his highchair,” says mom of two Erin Henderson, of Waltham, Massachusetts. “It was a mess, but he obviously enjoyed the learning experience.”

Also, during the latter half of your baby’s Stage 2 stint, they may learn how to grab things with their thumb and forefinger and bring them to their mouth. 

“Between 8 and 12 months, babies develop the pincer grasp ability and should be able to pick up small pieces of finger food, such as Cheerios or puffs,” says Thompson.

As your baby grows and hones their eating skills, they’ll cut down a bit on how much breast milk or formula they drink — but keep in mind, that should still be their primary source of nutrients. 

“Most infants will naturally start to moderate their breast milk or formula intake once their solid intake increases,” says Treegoob. “Solid food may start to account for a significant source of nutritional intake closer to 7 to 9 months. At this time, parents may notice that their baby shows interest in smaller or less frequent bottle or breastfeeds. As long as their weight remains on track and baby is drinking enough milk to stay well-hydrated, there should be no need for concern. Infants typically take somewhere between 24 to 40 ounces of breast milk or formula between 4 to 6 months and 24 to 32 ounces from 6 to 9 months.” 

According to the AAP, babies should be eating about 4 ounces of solids (about one small jar of baby food) at each of their meals. And if you’re wondering how long baby food lasts, experts typically recommend 24-48 hours in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Lastly, bear in mind that if at first you don’t succeed with a food, try, try again. 

“At this age, if babies grimace when taking a bite or shake themselves, it is most often because of a texture issue, not the actual taste,” says Custer. “It is important to keep introducing these foods as it may take a baby up to 15 times to get used to a texture before you can say for sure he/she doesn’t like it.

Ready for the next stage?

  • Stage 3 baby food

First spoon, main spoon: complementary food menu!

Reviewer Kovtun Tatiana Anatolievna


September 15 2021

Your baby is 4-6 months old, which means it's time for a change: he is already big, and his diet is expanding with complex almost "adult" products. Vegetable puree, porridge, fruit puree, juices, meat purees - all this he has to try, taste and love in order to grow strong and healthy.

Introduction to complementary foods

Pediatricians say: you need to introduce your baby to complementary foods at the age of 4 to 6 months. It is at this age that the child is already ready to accept new food for him. And then the question arises: where to start? What to include on the menu?

At the beginning of the introduction of complementary foods, as a rule, the first choice is either one-component vegetable purees - hypoallergenic mashed broccoli, cauliflower or zucchini puree, or hypoallergenic dairy-free cereals - rice, buckwheat.

But the further, the more interesting! By 6 months, the baby's menu becomes more diverse. And all the products for expanding the child's diet can be found among the products of the First Choice "FrutoNyanya".

Yes, and there is no doubt that for the nutrition of a young baby, it is necessary to choose industrial products. After all, this is a guarantee of the correct composition, microbiological safety and product quality. 9200 ml

  • Second breakfast (10:30): porridge 150 g + butter 4 g + fruit puree 30 g
  • Lunch (14:00): vegetable puree 150 g + vegetable oil 3 ml + meat puree 5-30 g + fruit juice 60 ml
  • Dinner (18:00): fruit puree 30 g + cottage cheese 10 to 40 g + breast milk 150 - 170 ml
  • At night (23:00 - 23:30): breast milk or formula 200 ml
    • Thus, during the day, a six-month-old child should eat at least five times. Three main meals and two conventional snacks. Lovers of food can be fed six times, but do not get carried away.

      What can a baby get at six months

      Baby food "FrutoNyanya" offers babies Hypoallergenic products of the First choice - to get acquainted with each category of complementary foods:

      • one-component broccoli, cauliflower and courgette purees,
      • dairy-free cereals - rice and buckwheat,
      • turkey and rabbit meat purees,
      • fruit purees and juices from apples, pears,
      • and, of course, baby water.

      For older kids, the assortment of FrutoNyanya baby food also includes multi-component purees, cereals and juices, as well as complementary foods for children's dairy products.

      Sample menu for two weeks

      The first version is suitable for babies who are just starting to get acquainted with complementary foods, and the second version is for already “experienced” six-month-old babies.

    Reviewer Kovtun Tatiana Anatolievna

    Scientific adviser to PROGRESS JSC, Ph.D.

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