Once your baby is eating solids, it's important to give them a wide variety of foods from the 4 main food groups:
- fruit and vegetables
- starchy carbohydrates
- pulses, meat and other proteins
Getting your baby used to eating a variety of foods from the start will help set them up for a lifetime of healthier eating.
It's a great habit to get into, and one that will hopefully help avoid fussy eating and make your life a bit easier as your baby gets older.
Take your time
Allow plenty of time for eating, especially at first. Rushing or forcing your baby could lead to feeding problems.
Go at your baby's pace and stop when they show you they have had enough. Do not leave meals until your child's too hungry or too tired to eat.
Offer different foods
Babies like to choose for themselves and sometimes take their time getting used to different foods.
Keep offering a variety of foods and gradually introduce news foods.
Offer less sweet vegetables
Offer vegetables that are not sweet, such as broccoli, cauliflower and spinach, from the start.
It may take 10 or even more attempts for your baby to accept new foods, particularly as they get older.
They might make funny faces, but this does not mean they do not like it. They're just getting used to new flavours and textures.
Encourage your baby to feed themselves with their fingers. This way they can show you how much they want to eat, and it helps them get used to different foods and textures. It's also good for developing their hand and eye co-ordination.
As a guide, the best finger foods are foods that can be cut up into pieces big enough for your baby to hold in their fist and stick out of the top of it. Pieces about the size of your own finger work well.
It can get messy
But this is an important part of your baby's development. Encouraging your baby to touch and play with their food will help them learn how to eat and enjoy different foods, flavours and textures.
You may want to cover the floor with newspaper or a protective mat to make clearing up easier.
Let your baby guide you
Most babies know when they're full, so let your baby guide you and never force them to eat.
Follow your baby's cues and learn to recognise when they're hungry and when they have had enough.
Babies under 12 months do not need snacks. If you think your baby is hungry in between meals, offer extra milk feeds instead.
Try not to worry
There will be days when your baby eats more, some days when they eat less, and some days when they reject everything. This is perfectly normal.
Do not focus on what your baby eats in a meal or a day. It's more helpful to think about what they eat over a week.
Show them how you eat
Babies copy their parents and other children, so you can help them by showing them that you eat healthier foods.
Babies enjoy watching you eat and learn from being a part of family mealtimes.
Help them join in by talking to them and giving them food when you or the rest of the family are eating.
Having mealtimes around the same time every day can make it easier for your baby to know when it's food time.
Foods high in sugar, fat and salt
Avoid giving your baby sugary drinks and snacks high in sugar, fat or salt, as these can fill your child up so they're not hungry for healthier food.
It's best not to get them used to these foods and drinks, as this may make them more likely to want them as they get older.
You can make healthier homemade food from simple ingredients with no added sugar or salt, which can also be cheaper than shop-bought baby foods. This also helps your baby get used to family foods.
Jar, pouches and packet food
Baby food in jars, pouches or packets can be handy, but portion sizes are often too big and much of it has the same texture.
This may make it harder for your baby to accept more varied textures and move on to family foods as they get older.
Jars and pouches can be useful when you do not have much time or if you're out with your baby.
If using pouches, always squeeze the contents onto a spoon. Do not let your baby suck straight from the pouch, as it may contribute to tooth decay.
Packaged baby snacks, such as rusks, baby biscuits and baby biscotti, should not form part of your baby's diet, as they may contain lots of sugar.
Sit up straight
Make sure your baby is sitting safely, in an upright position, so they can swallow properly.
Keep distractions to a minimum
During mealtimes, avoid sitting your baby in front of the television, phone or tablet.