Introducing Solids: Food Stages

During the early stages of introducing solids, the goals are to improve oral motor skills, establish safety, maintain positive associations with eating and to develop a diet with a wide variety of foods.

Development of oral motor skills for feeding are dependent on the qualities of the foods given to the child.  The qualities of the foods (such as meltable or non-meltable) determine the level of oral motor skills required to prepare the food for swallowing.  The following is an outline of foods organized by the typical progression of feeding skills.

Typically introduced at 5 months:

  • Thin Baby Food Cereals

Typically introduced at 6 months:

  • Stage One Baby Food Purees/Single Food Item Purees
  • Thicker Baby Food Cereals

Typically introduced at 7 months:

  • Stage Two Baby Foods, Mixed Food Purees
  • Mashed Table Foods, such as banana, avocado, sweet potato…

Typically introduced at 8 months:

Typically introduced at 9 months:

  • Hard Solids that Melt, such a graham cracker, Gerber’s cereal squares, Snap Pea Crips, Krinkle Sticks, Towne crackers

Typically introduced at 10 months:

  • Soft Foods cut into Cubes, such as avocado, kiwi, cooked squash, cooked potato, peas, banana, vegetable soup ingredients without broth, Gerber Graduates fruits

Typically introduced at 11 months:

  • Soft Chews, Same Texture, such as fruit breads, muffins, small pastas, cubed lunch meat, thin deli meats in small squares, barley, scrambled eggs, soft meat soup without broth

Typically introduced at 12 months:

  • Soft Chews, Multiple Textures, such as macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, french fries, spaghetti, lasagna, fish sticks

Typically introduced at 15 to 18 months:

  • Hard Chews, such as cheerios (and most non-meltable cereals), pretzel sticks, ritz crackers, saltine crackers, sticks of hard raw fruits and vegetables,

It is suggested that non-meltable cereals and crackers be introduced at approximately 15 to 18 months, which is much later than popular belief.

Please note, the provided ages are a suggestion, as different children develop at different rates.  My general suggestion is to wait approximately one month before proceeding to the next stage.  Signs that a food is too difficult for your child include coughing, watery eyes, gagging, turning head away or spitting out more than 50% of the food.

If you have concerns regarding your child’s feeding development, do not hesitate to consult your pediatrician or an occupational or speech therapist who specializes in feeding.