Food diversification can begin when your baby is over 6 months old. During this essential step of your baby’s life, he will be discovering new tastes and textures.
Food diversification means step by step introducing new food and textures in your infant’s diet thus moving on from an exclusively milk diet to a more varied food. Start first by introducing cereals, fruit and vegetables before moving on to meat, fish and eggs. Gradually your baby will accept food of a more solid texture: after eating his first puréed fruit and vegetables, he will enjoy mashed textures and then chopped up ingredients.
Why start with food diversification?
It is recommended to start with food diversification after 5 or 6 months. By that time most babies are physiologically and psychologically ready to eat mixed food.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends to start food diversification by the age of 6 months (180 days).
Food diversification is an essential step in your infant’s development both on a nutritional as on a psychomotor aspect. He will need to learn to chew instead of sucking. Moreover, introducing new ingredients stimulates the sensorial development (consistency, taste, smell, colour).
Food diversification happens when your baby’s needs for energy and nutrients can not be met by exclusive breastfeeding or bottle feeding anymore.
Is your baby ready for diversification ?
Certain signs will show you your baby is physiologically ready to accept other food than just milk:
Increase of salivation
Ability to swallow non liquid food
Development of the lateral movement of chewing
Ability to sit up with support
Good neck and head control
Greater ability to show hunger and satiety
Observe consciously all these signs in order to start diversifying at the right moment.
How to successfully start diversifying ?
Food diversification means you will progressively be introducing solid food, various textures, tastes and types of food unknown to your infant until now.
Meanwhile milk remains the food of the utmost importance for your baby. New foods such as cereals or fruit and vegetables will progressively appear in your baby’s menu.
Read here more advice on how to help your baby progressively discover new tastes !
During the first 5 months, your baby is on a total milk diet
From 5-6 months old to 12 months old: introducing infant cereals
Your baby will still need to drink at least 500ml of follow-on milk per day (2 or 3 bottles depending on the age). Infant cereal can be introduced as they contain starch and complex carbohydrates, which are digested more slowly than the milk's lactose. Therefore your baby will be less frequently hungry and you will be able to let more time between two bottle feeds.
From 6 months to 12 months: continuation of breastfeeding or consumption of follow-on milk
Around 5-6 months: introduction to a more varied food (taste / colour / texture)
Introduction of vegetables: you can add potatoes to thicken your smooth vegetable purée
Introduction of fruit: They are usually well accepted as they have a sweet taste.
The fruit and vegetable quantity has to be increased gradually.
At the beginning foods should be well mixed and without pieces to later contain small lumps. As soon as the first teeth grow, your baby will start chewing these pieces.
Around 6-7 months: Introduction of meat and fish
Your baby’s menu will now contain animal proteins different from those of milk: small pieces of meat / fish / ham and egg-yolk (due to the risks of allergy to the ovalbumin in egg white, these should not be given until the age of 8 months).
From 7 months – 12 months: continuation of food diversification
Your baby will now go on to other dairy products such as yoghurts and fromage frais in addition to the milk.
Your baby will enjoy rice, pasta, bread and biscuits and, from 7 or 8 months old, cacao.
Always ask your doctor or paediatrician for personalised medical advice.