Around 6 months of age, your growing baby is ready to start sampling solid foods to complement their diet of breast milk or formula. This exciting milestone marks the beginning of your baby’s culinary adventure! However, since babies are typically born without any teeth, you may wonder what types of foods are appropriate to introduce.
The good news is that there are many healthy, nutritious options perfectly suited for toothless babies. With a little creativity and patience, you can provide your 6 month old with a variety of flavors and textures to expand their palate and support their development.
In this article, we’ll explore:
- Food consistencies appropriate for gummy babies
- Nutritious first foods to begin trying at 6 months
- Food preparation tips to make eating easier
- Sample schedules for planning meals
- Choking risks and foods to avoid
- Transitioning to finger foods around 8 months
- Teething tips and when to seek relief
- Answers to common questions about starting solids
Armed with the information below, you can confidently introduce your toothless 6 month old to solid foods and set them up for healthy eating habits!
Start with thin cereal
One of the first and most important foods to give your baby when starting solids is iron-fortified cereal. Iron supports your baby’s rapid brain development and growth in the first year of life. Since breastmilk is relatively low in iron, iron-fortified infant cereal helps ensure your baby gets enough of this key nutrient.
Look for single grain cereals made from rice, oats, barley or multigrain mixes. These pre-mixed cereals designed for babies are finely ground for easy swallowing and digestion. To prepare, mix the cereal powder with breastmilk, formula or water until smooth and thin – only add 1-2 tablespoons at first. Avoid making it too thick or lumpy.
The runny, porridge-like consistency is perfect for your baby’s toothless mouth and still-developing swallowing abilities. Let them practice taking small spoonfuls from a shallow bowl or directly from the spoon. Increase serving size gradually as your baby becomes accustomed to cereal textures.
Aim to introduce iron-fortified cereal within your baby’s first weeks on solids. Serving it 1-2 times per day helps set a healthy foundation and builds familiarity with solid food.
Try simple vegetable and fruit purees
Once your baby has tried iron-fortified cereal for several days with no issues, you can begin offering pureed fruits and vegetables. Sticking to one new food at a time allows you to watch for potential signs of an allergic reaction or intolerance.
Move through produce options slowly, waiting 2-3 days before introducing another new food. Good vegetables to begin with include:
- Sweet potatoes – an excellent source of vitamin A and beta carotene. Peel, steam or roast until very soft, then mash or puree.
- Carrots – rich in vitamin A to support eye health. Peel, steam and puree until smooth.
- Butternut squash – contains vitamin C, beta carotene, potassium. Peel, roast and puree.
- Peas – packed with fiber, vitamins C and K. Steam frozen or fresh peas, then blend.
- Green beans – nutritional powerhouse with folate, vitamins C and K. Steam well and puree.
Fruits also offer key vitamins and antioxidants. Try starting with:
- Apples – iron, fiber, vitamin C. Peel, chop, steam until soft, then mash or puree.
- Pears – high in fiber, vitamin C, copper. Peel, boil, puree.
- Bananas – potassium, vitamin B6, fiber. Mash ripe banana with fork or puree.
- Peaches – vitamins A and C, fiber, niacin. Remove skin/pit, steam, then puree chunks.
- Plums – antioxidants, vitamins A and C. Remove pit, steam, blend.
- Apricots – beta carotene, iron, potassium. Remove pit, boil, mash.
Aim for thin, smooth purees without lumps, which can trigger gags. Adding breastmilk, formula or a little cooking liquid helps achieve an appropriate spoonable texture.
Let your baby guide you – if a food is refused after several tries, wait and retry again later. Don’t force or pressure them. Provide only a 1-2 teaspoons initially until tolerated.
Combine flavors for interest
Once single veggie and fruit purees are going well, begin combining foods to add flavor and nutrition variety. Blend pairs like:
- Sweet potato + peach
- Carrot + pear
- Butternut squash + applesauce
- Avocado + banana
Vary temperatures and textures too – some babies prefer warm or room temperature foods. Mix up orange and green colors for visual appeal. Making eating fun will encourage your baby’s enjoyment of meals!
Include good fat sources
Babies need fat in their diets for energy, brain development and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Healthy fats for 6 month olds include:
- Avocado – contains monounsaturated fat. Mash well with fork or puree. Offer alone or mix into other foods.
- Nut and seed butters – look for all-natural, unsweetened varieties made from almonds, cashews or sunflower seeds. Stir vigorously before serving to avoid clumps.
- Olive oil – provides anti-inflammatory benefits. Drizzle small amount onto purees.
- Full fat yogurt – offers protein, calcium, probiotics. Whole milk, unsweetened yogurt is ideal. Dilute with water or breastmilk to thin.
- Salmon – excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids for brain development. Remove any bones, steam, flake and mash.
Finger foods build coordination
Around 6 months, babies become interested in feeding themselves. Offering safe finger foods helps develop their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Supervise continuously to avoid choking hazards. Good starter finger foods include:
- Toast strips or thin bagel pieces – can spread with mashed avocado or soft cheese
- Rice cakes or baby crackers that quickly dissolve with chewing
- Strips of soft cooked veggies like carrots or sweet potatoes
- Small pieces of soft peeled fruits like bananas, melon and pear
- Pasta – make sure cooked very soft and cut into short lengths
- Baby cereal puffs that melt down when wet
Sit nearby, allowing your baby to pick up foods themselves. Avoid whole grapes, raw veggies, chunks of meat or other hard foods. Let your baby explore new textures and practice the pincer grasp even if more food ends up on the floor than in their mouth!
Include non-dairy calcium sources
Dairy foods like cheese and yogurt are common first foods for babies. However, their thick textures may be difficult for your toothless 6 month old. Focus on non-dairy calcium sources such as:
- Pureed silken tofu or edamame – blends into a smooth, creamy consistency
- Salmon or sardines with soft bones – be sure to mash/puree until very fine
- Cooked kale, broccoli, spinach – chop well before steaming to puree
- Calcium-fortified orange juice – limit to 1-2 oz per day diluted with water
- Chia seeds – grind smooth, mix into other foods
- Blackstrap molasses – contains calcium and iron. Add just a pinch to thin purees.
Getting enough calcium ensures proper bone development. Aim for at least 200 mg daily through combination of foods. Consult your pediatrician about supplements if concerned.
Foods to avoid before 1 year
While a 6 month old can eat many foods, some items present choking hazards or are low in nutritional value. Avoid these before 12 months:
- Honey – risk of infant botulism
- Whole cow’s milk – can irritate digestive system
- Added salt and sugar
- Whole grapes, nuts, popcorn – choking dangers
- Raw veggies like carrots, celery – cook until soft
- Hard chunks of fruit or meat
- Sticky nut butters – dilute to safer consistency
- Juice – only 100% fruit juice in limited quantities
- Processed snacks like cookies, chips etc.
Stick to simple, single-ingredient foods at first. Wait until baby is older before offering mixed dishes or foods with added sugar/salt. Let your baby focus on exploring flavors and textures without distractions.
Sample meal plans
To give you ideas for planning nutritious daily meals for your 6 month old baby, here are a couple sample schedules:
Sample schedule 1
- Breakfast: Iron-fortified oat cereal mixed with breastmilk
- Mid-morning: Pureed peach
- Lunch: Pureed sweet potato and carrots
- Afternoon: Baby Mum-Mum crackers
- Dinner: Pureed tofu, breastmilk and rice cereal
- Before bed: Breastmilk
Sample schedule 2
- Breakfast: Iron-fortified multigrain cereal with pureed banana
- Mid-morning: Pureed pears
- Lunch: Avocado slices and baby crackers
- Afternoon: Full fat Greek yogurt mixed with breastmilk
- Dinner: Pureed chicken, peas and sweet potatoes
- Before bed: Breastmilk
The key is offering a variety of flavors, colors and textures over 3-4 “meals” per day. Allow your baby to signal when full – never force them to finish meals. And remember breastmilk or formula should still provide majority of calories at this age – solids complement it.
Food preparation and storage tips
Preparing homemade meals while avoiding waste takes some planning. Follow these tips:
- Start with small batches of new foods. Toss rather than save leftovers your baby’s spoon touched.
- Cook vegetables and fruits until very soft for purees. Use fresh, frozen or canned.
- Add breastmilk, formula or cooking liquid to reach a thin, smooth consistency your baby can swallow safely.
- Puree single portions in a mini food processor or blender, or mash by hand.
- To store, freeze individual servings in ice cube trays or small BPA-free containers.
- Label all foods with contents and date. Frozen purees last 1-2 months.
- Refrigerated purees keep 2-3 days. Toss if any spoilage.
- When reheating, always heat purees to steaming – bacteria can grow quickly.
With a little organization, you’ll have healthy homemade meals ready anytime for your 6 month old!
Does my baby need extra water or juice?
Breastmilk or formula provides all the hydration a 6 month old needs. Offering water or juice on top of that is generally not necessary. Around 6 months, you can introduce sips of water with meals if desired – but limit to 1-2 oz in a cup, not baby bottles.
Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefit at this age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding juice until minimum 12 months due to its effect on appetite and lack of nutrients. If you do want to offer juice, dilute it with water and limit to 4 oz per day in a cup only. Focus your baby’s nutrition on solids and breastmilk or formula first.
Choking hazards and prevention
Starting solids comes with a higher risk of choking as babies learn to manipulate food in their mouths and swallow. To prevent incidents:
- Never leave baby alone with food or prop a bottle. Stay nearby and supervise actively.
- Only offer foods appropriate for your baby’s abilities. No hard, raw veggies or chunks of meat.
- Avoid slippery foods like whole grapes, hot dogs, nuts, seeds, popcorn.
- Cook all vegetables and fruits thoroughly until soft. Cut grapes, berries in halves/quarters.
- Do not let baby walk or crawl with food in mouth.
- Sit baby upright for eating – do not feed lying down.
- Learn infant CPR techniques. Call 911 immediately if choking occurs.
With attentive supervision and age-appropriate food consistencies, you can prevent scary choking incidents. But accidents can still happen unexpectedly, so vigilance is key.
Your baby may start teething around 6 months, with swollen gums and increased drooling. To help relieve discomfort:
- Gently massage gums with clean finger or cold wet gauze pad
- Allow baby to chew on a chilled teething toy
- Offer cool spoon or wet washcloth to nibble
- Give mesh bag with frozen fruit like banana or melon
- Avoid numbing gels/liquids unless prescribed by doctor due to risk of overdose
Your baby may also pull off breast or bottle and prefer cold foods when teething. Increased crying and crankiness can signal pain. Try cuddling, soothing music and comfort from a pacifier.
See your pediatrician if fever, rash or diarrhea accompany teething. Otherwise teething symptoms should resolve within a few days as the tooth breaks through. Be patient and keep your baby comfortable.
Moving to finger foods around 8 months
Once your baby reaches 7-8 months old, their fine motor skills improve significantly. At this point you can offer more varied finger food textures with lower risk of gagging or choking. Try these starter finger foods around 8 months:
- Toast, crackers, strips of cooked pasta or potatoes
- Small chunks of soft fruit – bananas, melon, strawberries, mango, peeled pear
- Well-cooked carrot sticks, green bean pieces, sweet potato sticks
- Pieces of soft cheese
- Egg – hard boiled and cut into quarters or soft scrambled
- Shredded chicken or fish
- Baby-safe puffs and meltable crackers
Supervise continuously and ensure foods are cut no larger than 1/4 inch pieces. Cook vegetables thoroughly – no raw. Let your baby pick up foods themselves to gain independence. Offer lots of praise even if more food ends up on the floor! Self-feeding is a skill that takes practice but sets them up for the future.
Breastmilk and iron-fortified formula contain all the vitamins and minerals a healthy baby needs in the first 6 months. But around 4-6 months, you may want to discuss a vitamin D supplement, especially if baby is exclusively breastfed.
Babies with limited sun exposure, darker skin or certain medical conditions may also need supplemental vitamin D. Ask your pediatrician if you have concerns about vitamin levels.
An iron supplement may be recommended if your baby was premature or is a picky eater. Your doctor can check iron levels with a blood test to determine if needed.
Do not give any supplements without your doctor’s guidance, as overdoing vitamins and minerals can be toxic. Get guidance tailored to your baby’s specific needs.
Frequently asked questions
Here are answers to some common questions parents have about starting solids with a 6 month old:
What if my baby refuses solids or doesn’t seem ready?
Don’t worry if your baby is disinterested, confused about swallowing, or pushes foods out of their mouth at first. Introduce solids slowly and give them time to get used to new textures and flavors. Avoid forcing or pressuring them. Follow their cues and try again later. Most babies readily accept solids between 8-9 months. Discuss any concerns with your pediatrician.
How do I know if a food caused an allergic reaction?
Allergic reactions are uncommon but can include hives, swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing/wheezing or other signs of distress. Discontinue the suspect food immediately. Call your pediatrician right away if multiple symptoms occur after introducing a new food. Mild rash around mouth or increased spitting up are likely not allergy-related. Go slow with new foods and watch for reactions.
Is there a limit to how much solid food to give baby?
Let your baby’s hunger cues guide solid food serving sizes. Typically 2-4 tablespoons of various solids 3x per day is a good starting point. If they want more, keep feeding until satisfied. Avoid forcing extra food if they lose interest. Remember breastmilk or formula should still provide majority of calories at this age.
My baby prefers fruits over veggies. What should I do?
It’s very normal for babies to favor naturally sweet fruits initially. Try pairing fruits with veggies or giving veggies first. Mix in a little breastmilk or formula to mildly sweeten veggie purees. Offer a variety of veggies prepared different ways. With repeated exposure over time, your baby’s tastes will expand. Stay patient and keep offering veggies.
Is store-bought or homemade baby food better?
Both homemade and store-bought baby food can be healthy options. Homemade gives you control over ingredients. Store-bought offers convenience but read labels to avoid added sugar or salt. Whichever you choose, stick to single-ingredient purees at first and watch for potential allergic reactions. Introduce new foods slowly whether preparing homemade or using store-bought.
Navigating first foods for a toothless 6 month old does require extra attention and caution. But by focusing on appropriate textures and nutritious whole food options, you can successfully introduce your baby to solids in a safe, positive way.
From iron-rich cereals to flavorful produce purees and easily graspable finger snacks, there are endless healthy, delicious possibilities for your baby to explore. With patience and supervision, this can be an exciting time of bonding, development and discovering new tastes and textures.
Remember to consult your pediatrician for any concerns. Trust your baby’s cues and appetite as you gradually expand their culinary horizons. In no time, your little one will master the basics of eating solid foods and continue expanding their adventurous palate.