Guidelines for a gradual introduction to your family’s foods.
Milk is still the main food for 12 months.
Starting solids is about your baby tasting and learning to handle food in their mouth and swallow it. It's not about satisfying hunger. This is important playtime for your baby as they practise their new skills.
As you introduce family foods from 6 months, your baby will still be having plenty of breastfeeds each day. Throughout your baby's first year of life breastmilk (or infant formula for a formula-fed baby) remains their main source of nutrition. Any family foods that your baby takes will be extra to their breastmilk intake.
How many 'meals'?
To start with, your baby will only have a very small amount, perhaps less than a teaspoon or the taste of a finger food. Most babies won't be having any significant amounts of food until about 7 months.
One small ‘meal’ of solid food each day will probably be enough for a while. You can slowly build up to three meals each day (plus drinks and snacks) over the next 6 months.
Below is a general guide for daily amounts of different food groups for babies aged 7 to 12 months, based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Babies will vary so some may need a little more and others a little less.
Each category has a recommended amount that you can make up from just one of the foods or a mix of foods in that category. For example, half the amount of meat plus half the amount of nut butter equals the full amount for the first category.
Focus on the good sources of iron first.
Meats, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes: 30g per day
Each of these is about 30g:
- 1-2 tablespoons cooked red meat/mince or chicken (about 50g raw)
- 2-3 tablespoons fish (about 60g raw) or half a small can of unflavoured fish
- 1/3 cup tofu
- 1/2 cup cooked lentils, chickpeas or beans
- 1 tablespoon peanut, almond or cashew butter
- 1 egg
These are good sources of iron.
Grain foods: 60 g per day
Each of these is about 60g:
- 1 1/2 slices bread or 3/4 bread roll
- 3 rice cakes
- 3/4 cup cooked pasta, couscous, rice, noodles or porridge
- For those having baby cereal (also a source of iron if fortified), they could have an extra 20g of this per day.
Vegetables: 30-40g per day
Each of these is 30-40g:
- 1/8-1/4 cup cooked vegetables or legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils, split peas)
- 1/4-1/2 cup salad vegetables
- 1/8-1/4 medium potato
- 1/4-1/2 medium tomato
- 1 tablespoon avocado.
Fruit: 10g per day
Each of these is about 10g:
- about 1/8 medium piece of fruit, such as apple, banana, orange or pear
- 1/4 small piece of fruit, such as apricot, kiwi fruit or plum
- 1/8 cup canned fruit (no added sugar)
- 1 tablespoon pureed fruit
- 1/2 tablespoon full-fat yoghurt
- 5g cheese
Fats and oils
- Total of between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon of one or mix of unsaturated spread, oil or nut/seed paste
- 1 tablespoon avocado
What if my baby doesn’t want to eat solids?
Some babies are keen eaters of solids and others don’t show much interest other than to play with the food. In the first 12 months, breastmilk is their main source of nutrition with small amounts of other foods, particularly iron-rich foods. Keep offering your baby small amounts of whatever the family is eating.
Formulas marketed for children over 12 months such as ‘toddler’ or ‘growing-up’ milks do not help children learn to eat normal foods, do not provide any extra benefits over family foods and are not recommended by health experts. Apart from breastmilk, it is best if a child’s diet is wholly made up of family foods.
Some parents wonder if they should cut back on breastfeeds, even wean, to encourage their toddler to eat more solids. This may or may not make a difference. Some toddlers can be quite picky eaters in general. It can be reassuring to know that even when they aren’t taking much in the way of food, they can still be having some breastfeeds.
If you are particularly concerned that they aren’t taking any solids, you might try offering other foods when baby is hungriest and following up with a breastfeed. Ultimately you can’t force your baby to take solid foods. It’s important to make mealtimes as relaxed as possible.
© Australian Breastfeeding Association April 2022
Read more about introducing solids
Evidence-led info and practical tips from our Breastfeeding Information Series