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How to start complementary feeding

Starting complementary feeding is an exciting time. Here are our top tips on how and when to start baby food.

5 mins to read Oct 25, 2020
  • Wait until around six months as your baby will need good eye, hand, and mouth coordination. Check your baby is able to stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady.
  • Whether you decide to start on pureed food, cereal or finger foods (also known as baby-led weaning) or a combination of both—variety is key.
  • Feed your baby on solid food only once a day initially, gradually increase the amount and variety of food, being responsive to baby’s cues.
  • A rough guideline is to start with about 5–10 teaspoons of food (about 30g) at one meal. You can then increase it to two meals a day, and then up to three meals per day.
  • For the first feed make sure baby isn’t tired—it may take a while for them to get used to food from a spoon, so patience is key
  • Your baby is hungrier and more alert first thing, so it’s a good time to try new foods.
  • Sit baby upright in a highchair with no distractions, like TV, cellphones or tablets.
  • Give them a little of their usual milk first to relax them and take the edge off their hunger.
  • For the first feed, try pureed vegetables. There is recent evidence that weaning with veggies helps set up healthy food preferences later on, let’s hope so!
  • Try to introduce a new single bitter vegetable every day for one week, for examples broccoli, beetroot, or zucchini. Keep a camera ready—you may get some funny faces.
  • Repeat this process for the second week to get baby used to bitter vegetables.
  • Remember it can take up to eight tries for your baby to accept a new flavour so don’t give up!
  • Keep a feeding schedule stuck on the fridge to track what your baby has tried, and how often.
  • Only try one new food at a time. You can combine flavors after a couple of weeks once you know they’re a hit.
  • Praise baby when they try something new.
  • Baby’s complementary feeding diet should include the essential food groups—fruits, vegetables, grains and starchy foods, dairy, meat, fish and protein foods, and fats.
  • Variety is key.
  • Vegetarian or vegan? Be sure to include a variety of foods such as eggs, ground nuts or seeds, soy products (tofu), cereal foods, pulses such as beans, peas and lentils.
  • If giving baby a vegetarian or vegan diet they may need additional supplements, so speak to your healthcare provider (HCP) for advice.
  • Babies can eat nuts from about six months as long as they are crushed or finely ground. If your baby has eczema or you have a history of allergies in your family speak to your HCP first.
  • Be a good role model. Babies are curious so if you’re enjoying food on your plate, they are likely to be more eager to have some.
  • Think about quality over quantity with the foods you offer.
  • Planning to offer finger foods? Follow our baby-led weaning checklist.[https://www.babyandme.nestle.co.za/6-12-months/baby-led-weaning-checklist]