Your baby is 6 months old (can you believe how the time flies?!) and you’ve got the green light from your pediatrician to start introducing solid foods. On top of deciding how you want to offer those first bites (baby-led weaning, purees, or a combination of the two), you’re also left wondering which foods to give your baby. With so much information (and misinformation!), it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and not know where to start. 

While most foods are fair game, some are better than others, and a few should be avoided entirely for your baby’s safety. As a dietitian and mom of three, these are what I consider to be the best and worst foods for starting solids with your baby. Let’s dive into the details so you can confidently feed your infant and enjoy the wild (and messy!) journey ahead. 

The best foods for starting solids 

Babies can try most things as long as they are modified for texture, shape, and size to avoid any potential choking hazards. But for optimal nutrition, there are specific foods that are especially important for healthy growth and development. Keep in mind that at this stage, babies are still getting the majority of their nutrition from breast milk and/or formula, but they still need food for additional nutrients and skill development, like learning how to self-feed. The idea that “food before one is just for fun” is a misconception because solid food does start to matter at this age. The goal is for babies to eat 3 solid meals per day by age one, and achieving this requires gradually building up their skills and exposure to these foods. 

Bright, colorful produce

Fruits and vegetables are some of the best first foods since they offer a wide range of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. The produce aisle offers so many different colors and textures that can make mealtime exciting and capture a baby’s attention. Plus, the variety of flavors – from sweet and tart to earthy and bitter–can expose infants to lots of different tastes. Just be sure you’re preparing them in an age-appropriate way. Here are some examples:

  • Strawberries 
  • Butternut squash
  • Banana
  • Broccoli 
  • Blueberries 
  • Blackberries 
  • Dragon Fruit
  • Cauliflower 

Iron-rich foods

When babies reach 6 months, their iron needs jump to 11 mg per day. Iron supports healthy neurological development and helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. 11 mg is a large number, and can seem impossible to meet, especially since babies eat small amounts of food. Instead of stressing about numbers (no need to carry around a food diary!), focus on serving iron-rich foods 1 to 2 times per day. Some examples include:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Lentils 
  • Tofu
  • Peas
  • Iron-fortified cereals

Nutrient-dense foods

Since infants eat very small amounts of food, especially when they first start solids, you’re going to want to make every bite count. Your best bet is to serve nutrient-dense foods that pack loads of vitamins and minerals, even in small servings. Below are some baby-friendly nutrient-packed foods:

  • Avocado
  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Nut butter (thinned with water, breastmilk, or prepared infant formula)
  • Greek whole milk yogurt (plain, unsweetened) 


Research has shown that introducing allergenic foods early and regularly can significantly reduce the risk of your kiddo developing food allergies, so parents have the green light to start offering them at around 6 months when their kids start solids. You can chat with your pediatrician first about how best to introduce each allergen, especially if your family has a history of allergies. Here are the 9 most common allergens:

  • Cow’s milk 
  • Wheat 
  • Eggs
  • Soy 
  • Sesame 
  • Tree nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish

Foods to avoid

While it’s great to introduce babies to a variety of foods, textures, flavors, and colors, there are certain foods to avoid for their health and safety.

Choking hazards

We all know how important it is to avoid foods that present a choking risk, but some of the items on the list might come as a surprise so we’re laying them all out. There are a few different types of choking hazards to look out for: small, round foods like whole blueberries or chickpeas, hard or sharp foods like raw carrots or chips, and anything sticky, gummy, rubbery, or super slippery. Here are some foods that are big no-nos for children under age 4:

  • Hot dogs and sausages 
  • Whole blueberries
  • Whole beans
  • Whole or large pieces of nuts
  • Whole cherry tomatoes
  • Whole grapes
  • Marshmallows
  • Hard or gummy candies
  • Gummy vitamins 
  • Crackers with sharp edges 
  • Chips
  • Popcorn
  • Loose corn kernels
  • Hard, raw fruit like apples and pears 
  • Hard, raw vegetables like carrots and celery
  • Pomegranate arils 
  • Nut butters that are not thinned 
  • Plain bread (when mixed with saliva it can get gummy form into a ball in the mouth)
  • Cheese sticks
  • Chewing gum
  • Dried fruit
  • Poultry or fish with bones
  • Cubes or chunks of meat or chicken
  • Whole olives
  • Citrus without membranes removed 
  • Shellfish
  • Shrimp 

While these foods can present a choking risk, it doesn’t mean they all have to. For example, shrimp and lobster can be offered if they’re properly modified (cut into small pieces and mixed with a condiment or mashed avocado). The Solid Starts First Food Database is a free resource that guides parents on how to safely prepare and cut foods based on their baby’s age. 


Babies under 12 months should not eat cooked or raw honey because it can be contaminated with harmful bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. This can lead to infant botulism, a serious and potentially life-threatening disease that can damage the nervous system and lead to death.

Added sugar

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises against serving foods with added sugar to babies and children under age 2. Added sugar is more than just white or brown sugar – it also includes honey, maple syrup, agave, molasses, and other forms found in packaged goods like brown rice syrup or high fructose corn syrup. Common foods with added sugars include:

  • Ice cream
  • Packaged baked goods
  • Candy
  • Fruit drinks
  • Breakfast cereals 
  • Flavored yogurts 
  • Sauces and condiments 
  • Flavored milks


With their kidneys still developing, it’s harder for babies to filter out excess sodium. That’s why it’s best to avoid adding salt to their food or giving them packaged foods high in sodium. When flavoring your baby’s meals, skip sauces or spices with sodium, and instead, offer sodium-free options like dried or fresh herbs, garlic powder, cinnamon, or turmeric.

It’s also important to steer clear of packaged foods with high sodium levels, including: 

  • Deli meats 
  • Cured meats
  • Olives and pickles
  • Bread (look for sodium-free breads instead, like this one)
  • Salty cheeses
  • Pizza
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Frozen, prepared foods
  • Store-bought prepared foods 
  • Restaurant fare 
  • Puffs and crackers

You’re going to love this fun new phase with your baby, from the squished-up little faces they make when they try a new flavor to the satisfaction you get seeing them gobble up something you love. If you’re ever unsure of anything when it comes to starting solids, check in with your pediatrician.

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