What Foods Can Babies Eat at Six Months Old? - Baby Chick
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What Foods Can Babies Eat at Six Months Old?

Find out when your 6-month-old will be ready for solids, what to feed them, how (and why) to introduce allergenic foods, and what to avoid.

Updated June 7, 2024

by Dr. Mona Amin

Board-Certified Pediatrician
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As a pediatrician and Enfamil’s Infant Development expert, I’m often asked when babies reach that “solid foods” milestone. Traditionally, it’s around 6 months old.1 But most parents don’t know what to feed their baby at this age. So while the introduction of solid foods should be an enjoyable experience, it can sometimes be filled with stress for new parents. To help prepare you, I’ll go over what babies can eat at 6 months old, along with how (and why) to introduce allergenic foods and which foods to avoid.

Is My 6-Month-Old Ready for Solids?

Even though most 6-month-olds will be ready to eat solids, they must be doing the following at this age:1,2,3,4

  • Baby has good head and neck control and holds their head up high with wobbling.
  • Baby can sit upright on their own with very minimal support. (If they’re focusing on sitting, they may not be interested in grabbing food.)
  • Baby shows an interest in food. (When you’re eating, they open their mouth or try to grab your spoon or food off your plate.)
  • They’ve lost their tongue-thrust reflex and can move food to the back of their throat.

Baby Is Ready for Solids . . . But What To Feed Them?

Now, if they’re ready, what do you feed them? It depends on whether you want to do purees or baby-led weaning (BLW). Purees are a more traditional method, typically around 6 months of age, but I encourage you to consider giving them more textured (but safe) foods in a baby-led weaning style after 6 months. Baby-led weaning is a type of feeding that bypasses purees and goes straight to a baby self-feeding.5,6 If you decide to do purees first, make sure to incorporate self-feeding principles at the latest by 8 months of age to encourage the practice. We want to encourage this skill as early and safely as possible!

The best thing to feed your 6-month-old is what you’re eating in a consistency they can handle.6 If you’re doing purees, puree down the food you’re eating with various flavors. OR, if a food is safe for baby-led weaning, do that. Let’s go over how to do purees vs. baby-led weaning:

Purees

You can use a food processor to puree these items or even puree down what you’re eating!5,6 Here are some food options:1,5,6

  • Veggies: Peas, green beans, carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, eggplant, broccoli, pumpkin, sweet peas, mushrooms, cauliflower, spinach, kale
  • Fruits: Apples, pears, bananas, peaches, berries, mangoes, watermelon, avocado
  • Grains: Oatmeal, rice, infant multigrain cereal, quinoa cereal
  • Dairy: Unsweetened Greek yogurt with live active cultures for probiotics, cheeses (Swiss, mozzarella, ricotta)

Baby-Led Weaning

If you’re doing self-feeding or a baby-led weaning style of feeding, safety is paramount. When starting, follow these steps:

  • Make sure anything you give them can be squished between your finger and thumb (mimicking how their gums would mash it down). If you can’t squish it, it’s not safe!
  • Start with one item at a time (for example, veggies) and continue introducing other items and combining food groups as they learn and explore.1
  • Aim to make veggies and other items into spears or wedges, but ensure they’re soft according to the above-mentioned rule.3,4,6
  • For extra safety, you can cut pieces into the width of your pinky.6
  • Always ensure baby is seated and meets all the signs of readiness for BLW.6

Remember, these are the signs of readiness for BLW:1,2,3,4

  • Baby has good head and neck control and holds their head up high (they shouldn’t be like a bobblehead doll).
  • Baby can sit upright on their own with very minimal support. If they’re focusing on sitting, they may not be interested in grabbing food.
  • Baby shows an interest in food. (When you’re eating, they open their mouth or try to grab your spoon or food off your plate.)
  • Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and can move food to the back of their throat.
  • Baby is at least 6 months old.

What About Salt, Seasonings, and Sugar?

When you’re beginning to feed your 6-month-old, start with one or minimal seasoning to see how they tolerate it. As they tolerate the food (there’s no noticeable upset stomach during or after the meals), you may advance and introduce various seasonings. You can advance as fast as you’d like, just no five-alarm chili until they’re older! 😉

Avoid adding salt and feeding baby processed canned foods, like canned soups that are heavy in salt.4,5,7,19 Also, avoid added sugars as much as possible for children under 2 years old.1,7 Naturally occurring sugars in fruits contain fiber and other nutrients.8

Here’s how you can incorporate popular seasonings into food:

  • Cinnamon: Add to apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, yogurt, or oatmeal.9
  • Paprika: Add to sweet potatoes, carrots, lentils, or eggs.10
  • Cardamom: Add to pears, carrots, or bananas.11
  • Turmeric: Add to lentils or cauliflower.12
  • Cumin: Add to carrots, cauliflower, lamb, or chicken.13
  • Oregano/basil/cilantro: Add to veggies.14,15

The Introduction of Allergenic Foods Is Important

If your child has moderate to severe eczema, discuss the introduction of allergenic foods with your child’s clinician.1 In some cases, they may recommend allergy testing before introduction, such as testing for peanut allergy.4 If your child doesn’t have moderate to severe eczema, you can introduce allergenic foods whenever you start solids.

For top allergens, begin by introducing these items individually at least three times before mixing them with other foods.3 If no allergy is noted, you can combine them with other foods you’ve introduced to baby. Food allergies can happen anytime, but two to three exposures are good before combining with other foods.16

Early introduction of allergenic foods on a repetitive and consistent basis is key.17 This doesn’t mean giving peanut powder once and not doing it again. Be consistent in exposure! Remember, if they don’t like it, continue to offer it. Try giving that food two or three times a week for consistent exposure.16

How To Introduce the Top Nine Allergenic Foods

Here are the “Big 9” allergenic foods and how to introduce them to your 6-month-old, whether you’re doing puree feeding or baby-led weaning:18

1. Cow’s Milk

  • Puree Feeding: Yogurt or cheese in puree form
  • BLW: Yogurt or cheese on a preloaded spoon

2. Wheat

  • Puree Feeding: Wheat infant cereal
  • BLW: Lightly toasted wheat bread in strips; cooked pasta with butter

3. Eggs

  • Puree Feeding: Powdered mix-ins in cereal, on avocado, or veggies; minced scrambled eggs (can add breastmilk or formula to make smooth)
  • BLW: Hardboiled egg cut in wedges; omelet strips; mix-ins in yogurt on a preloaded spoon

4. Sesame Seeds

  • Puree Feeding: Hummus or tahini (with sesame)
  • BLW: Hummus or tahini on a preloaded spoon

5. Tree Nuts (Almonds, Cashews, Hazelnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Pecans, Pistachios, Walnuts)

  • Puree Feeding: Powdered mix-ins to cereal or yogurt; slightly watered-down nut butters (can use water, breastmilk, or formula); ground nuts in yogurt
  • BLW: Spread nut butters VERY thinly on strips of toast; add nut butters in yogurt on a preloaded spoon; serve nut butters alone on a preloaded spoon; ground nuts in yogurt on a preloaded spoon

6. Soy

  • Puree Feeding: Yogurt made out of soy milk
  • BLW: Tofu sticks; soy yogurt on a preloaded spoon; edamame cut for safety

7. Fish (Low-Mercury Fish Include Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Canned Light Tuna)

  • Puree Feeding: Pureed fish (may not taste great, so consider BLW)
  • BLW: Strips of well-cooked fish (season as you would)

8. Shellfish (Shrimp, Crab, Lobster)

  • Puree Feeding: Pureed fish (may not taste great, so consider BLW)
  • BLW: Crab cakes, sliced shrimp, lobster cakes

Note: Mussels and oysters are usually raw, so save those for later or cook and mince them.

9. Peanuts

  • Puree Feeding: Powdered mix-ins to cereal or yogurt; slightly watered-down nut butters (can use water, breastmilk, or formula)
  • BLW: Creamy peanut butter in yogurt on a preloaded spoon; creamy peanut butter alone on a preloaded spoon; powdered mix-ins in yogurt on a preloaded spoon; thin spread of nut butter on strips of toast

What Foods Should I Avoid?

Here’s what to avoid feeding your baby at this age:1,3,7,19

  • Honey
  • Fruit juices
  • Unpasteurized foods
  • Smoked and cured meats
  • High-mercury fish (shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and fresh tuna)
  • Choking hazards

The key is knowing your options and developing a feasible meal plan that works for your family’s diet, culture, and beliefs! Always keep safety in mind and give them what you’re eating to create less work for you. Also, remember that you want to introduce food to expose children under the age of 1, but most of their nutrition will likely come from breastmilk and formula.20 It’s still important to expose them to various foods, to not give up if they don’t like a food, and to enjoy the experience! 🙂

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Dr. Mona Amin Board-Certified Pediatrician
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Dr. Mona Amin is a mom, Board Certified Pediatrician, and founder of “The New Mom’s Survival Guide” educating new parents on how to navigate baby’s first year. She has also… Read more

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