Weaning towards the first birthday
This is the age of exploration, touch, taste, smell and independence while eating! So where possible avoid spooning food into your baby’s mouth and allow them the opportunity to feed themselves.
Hunger is the best motivator to encourage eating and you’ll find food battles are minimised if your baby has a good appetite before each mealtime.
Small finger foods are ideal at this stage. When strapped securely into their high chair, most babies are quite happy to play and squish their food and even transfer some of it into their mouth. You could try offering your baby their own spoon whilst you continue to feed them. Distraction is sometimes necessary to ensure they have an adequate intake of food, especially if they’ve become bored and want to move on.
Ideal foods for Stage 3 weaning:
- Iron fortified baby cereals are still very important to contribute to a baby’s recommended daily intake of iron
- Sandwiches made with wholegrain bread have a high amount of fibre which helps avoid constipation
- Meat, eggs, fish, chicken and legumes such as baked beans are all ideal sources of first class nutrition. Your baby does not need to eat a lot of these foods to obtain the nutritional benefits
- Grating vegetables into sauces, purÃ©es and soups is a good way of disguising extra nutrients and fibre
- Soups, casseroles, stews, braised meat and vegetables are all excellent sources of nutrition. Don’t be reluctant to offer your baby a lunch of last night’s leftovers. As long as they have been put away and stored quickly and correctly in the refrigerator, and reheated well (reheat until piping hot then allow to cool before feeding to baby), they should be safe
- Avoid adding sugar and salt
- Some babies like spices and some don’t. It’s up to you and your baby to work out what’s preferred. Just remember to avoid very hot spices and to introduce any spicy foods gradually.
Daily feeding routine:
- Breast or formula milk is still an important part of baby’s diet at this stage. If your baby is breastfeeding, then expect them to still need a minimum of three or more feeds a day. If they are bottle feeding, around 600-800mLs a day is average
- Three solid meals a day are ideal; aim for breakfast, lunch and dinner
- You can offer two courses from now on especially with main meals. Up to a cup for the first course and half of this amount for the second is recommended.
Weaning foods to avoid:
- Nutrient-poor foods with high levels of saturated fat, added sugars, and/or salt (e.g. cakes, biscuits, potato chips and other snack foods)
- Cow’s milk should not be the main milk drink until baby is 12 months of age. However, small amounts may be used in preparing solid foods
- Whole nuts
- Honey until after baby is 12 months of age
- Raw or undercooked pieces of vegetables or fruit like carrot and apple
- Small, hard foods e.g. popcorn and lollies
- Sweet drinks such as soft drink, cordial or any other highly sweetened foods.
Weaning tips to remember:
- Always stay with your baby when they are eating. Even though they may seem to be independent and managing well, choking may still happen
- Try to make them part of the social circle at the table, even if they do still hurl their food and can’t contribute to conversation! If you can, find a high chair that pulls up to the table. Babies love to watch and imitate, so if they see you eating they are more likely to eat as well. They also love a chat, so talk to them about what is going on and what is going in their mouth
- If you are going out, take some healthy snacks with you as finding suitable take-away foods can be challenging. Home prepared foods tend to be cheaper and healthier
- It is quite common for babies to be teething at this age, and during this time you may find your baby is less interested in eating
- Don’t be alarmed if what your baby thought was wonderful the day before now isn’t being accepted as well. It’s very common for babies to change their minds about what they like, so go with the flow and be creative. You’ll find old favourites are always being replaced by new ones at this stage!
- If you are planning to freeze cooked food, do this as soon as the food has cooled. Do not refreeze after food has thawed
- Remove an adequate amount of food from its storage container and place it in a separate bowl to feed baby from. Do not feed baby directly from the storage container, or return any uneaten food to it. This is important because saliva left in food can contaminate and result in sickness.
All babies have their own unique appetites and need for food as fuel. Try not to compare what your baby is eating with others of the same age. Take your baby to your local child health centre to have their growth checked regularly.
For further information on Introducing Solids watch our animation.
In this animation we look at when to start introducing solids and the best kinds of foods and textures to start with.