Feeding your baby

At around 6 months of age your baby may be ready to start on solid food. Solid food helps your baby to grow and learn.

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; avoid giving them other types of drinks.

Introducing solids is an exciting new stage for you and your baby. You get to prepare meals for your little one and they’ll have fun trying new tastes and textures. You’ll also learn what your baby likes and doesn’t like – this will vary from child to child!

Starting solids while breastfeeding

As your baby starts eating other foods, breast milk is still an important part of their diet. Until your baby is 8–9 months old, it’s best to give them breast milk before solid food. That way they’ll get all the milk they need to grow well.

Start solid food when your baby is ready

At around 6 months

Your baby may be ready for solid food if they:

  • seem hungry after breast milk or formula feeds
  • can hold their head up well
  • 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 don’t stick their tongue forward to push the food out.

Your baby’s first foods need to be plain, smooth and soft. Some ideas for good first foods for baby are on the Healthy Kids website.

From 7 to 8 months

Your baby may be ready for mashed foods, finger foods and new flavours. 

Between 8 and 12 months

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

Start solids at the right time

From around 6 months of age your baby needs solid food to grow and learn. Solid food also helps your baby’s brain and body to develop.

However, it’s important not to start solid food too early because:

  • your baby’s body won’t be ready for it
  • your baby may be more likely to get eczema, asthma, food allergies and respiratory infections.

Starting your baby on solid food early may not help them to sleep better at night. Your baby may start putting their hands or toys in their mouth, or have a growth spurt and want to feed more at around 3 months. This is normal – it doesn’t mean they’re ready for solids.

Your baby’s likes and dislikes

Every baby is different. Some babies will enjoy solid food as soon as they’re given it, while others will 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 likes and dislikes. Keep offering a range of healthy foods so that they can learn to enjoy a variety of food tastes and textures.

Related websites

Starting solids – HealthEd (Health Promotion Agency and Ministry of Health)
Information on infant feeding, nutrition and solid food.

Eating for healthy babies and toddlers – HealthEd (Health Promotion Agency and Ministry of Health)
Food information for babies and toddlers from birth to 2 years old. Includes breastfeeding and the benefits of breast milk, formula feeding, drinking plenty of fluids, starting solids, how to prevent choking, healthy eating habits, and meal ideas for babies and toddlers.

Nutrition 0–12 months – Kidshealth
All about infant nutrition for the first 12 months of your baby’s life. Each link takes you to a page beginning with a short video followed by key messages in English and 9 other languages. Many pages include links to more detailed information.

In this section

  • Baby-led weaning is when a baby is weaned using finger foods rather than puréed foods. Currently, the Ministry does not recommend baby-led weaning. Read more
Back to top