Learn everything you need to know about Baby Food Stages in this easy-to-read, comprehensive guide. It explains the different feeding stages, going over what every stage — Stage 1, 2, and 3, Finger Foods, and Baby-Led Weaning — is all about.
Medically reviewed by Jamie Johnson, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)
Baby Food Stages
Are you finding the baby food feeding stages confusing?
Well, you are not alone!
Stages 1, 2, 3, table foods, finger foods, baby-led weaning… ahhh… help! What does it all even mean? 🤯
Don’t worry; I’m here for you!
I broke down each stage into an easy-to-digest (pun intended) guide. 👊
What is in this guide:
- Baby Food Ages
- When Can Baby Start Solids?
- Overview: Purees – Stages 1, 2 and 3
- Overview: Baby-Led Weaning or Finger Foods
- Stage 1 Purees
- Stage 2 Purees
- Stage 3 Purees
- Baby-Led Weaning or Finger Foods
Baby Food Ages
- Stage 1 Purees: 4-6+ months
- Stage 2 Purees: 6+ months
- Stage 3 Purees: 9+ months
- Finger Foods: 10+ months
- Baby-Led Weaning: 6+ months
WHEN CAN BABY START SOLIDS?
When a baby can start on solids is determined by their own rate of development. Generally, it occurs between 4-6 months of age for purees and 6+ months for baby-led weaning. Some of the developmental milestones babies need to reach in order to start solids include: if your baby has solid control of their head and neck, if your baby has doubled in weight, and if your baby is reaching for or opening their mouth when you eat (see my guide here). But remember, before you start baby on solids, you should consult with your pediatrician to make sure your child is developmentally ready.
Purees – Stages 1, 2, and 3
So, to start, Baby Food Purees are grouped into 3 different stages — Stage One, Stage Two, and Stage Three. Without a doubt, they all consist of baby food purees. But they actually range from single-ingredient smooth purees to chunky combination purees filled with soft-cooked foods. Here’s a quick reference:
- the first stage of feeding
- single-ingredient thin purees
- smooth and easy to swallow
Stage One Products We Love
- slightly thicker
- combination purees made up of several different ingredients like fruits and vegetables
- may also include yogurt, grains, and proteins
- combination purees with soft-cooked chunks of food
- perfect for babies that need to practice chewing and swallowing foods
A NOTE TO FIRST-TIME BABY FOOD PREPPERS
Hold on, is it your first time making homemade baby food? If you answered yes, then I suggest you start this journey by reading my in-depth Guide on How to Make Homemade Baby Food. The detailed article goes over all the essential information such as the best cooking tools to have on hand, safe storage, knowing when your baby is ready for solids, introducing purees, making the best first foods for baby, and more! You can also check out my best-selling cookbook for even more information and recipes.
Baby-Led Weaning or Finger Foods
Basically, Baby-Led Weaning and Finger Foods are the same types of food; they’re just served to your baby at different times. Baby-Led Weaning is a newer approach to feeding your baby where you skip the puree stages altogether. Rather, you serve baby chunks of cooked food. Whereas Finger Foods, or sometimes referred to as Table Foods, are typically served to your baby after they master Stage 3 baby food purees.
In short, finger foods are served at 10+ months and baby-led weaning starts at 6+ months.
You can read more here: The Ultimate Guide to Finger Foods for Baby-Led Weaning.
Baby-Led Weaning Products We Love
Stage 1 Purees
Stage 1 baby food is the first type of puree you will be introducing to your baby. Made with a single ingredient and pureed until smooth, these simple purees are perfect for your budding eater. Besides, they are nutritious and full of flavor!
- age: 4-6+ months
- single-ingredient recipes
- smooth texture
- can be thinned out (similar to a thick soup but dripping off the spoon)
- first bites can be fruits, veggies, or grain cereal
Here are a few tips:
- first, offer your baby one puree at a time to watch for any allergic reactions
- also, consider offering different colors of food and flavors to start developing their palette
Stage One Recipes
- 15 Stage One Baby Food Purees (4-6 months)
- 4 Homemade Baby Cereal Recipes (4+ months)
- 36 Healthy + Homemade Baby Food Recipes (4+ Months)
Stage 2 Purees
Meanwhile, Stage 2 purees will make your baby’s mealtime more exciting with multiple ingredients. This time, you can focus on exposing your baby to various fruits, veggies, grains, and proteins. Plus, you can also add spices and herbs to come up with appetizing and unique flavor combinations.
- age: 6+ months
- combination of multiple-ingredient purees
- smooth texture
- can have a thicker consistency than stage one purees
- great way to expose your baby to a variety of flavors and food colors
- may include plain yogurt, grains, and proteins
Stage Two Recipes
- 18 Stage 2 Baby Food Purees (That Baby Will Actually Eat)
- 15 Fast + Easy Baby Food Recipes (made in under 15 minutes!)
- 18 Breakfast Ideas for Baby (6+ months)
Stage 3 Purees
In contrast, Stage 3 is full of hearty meals with multiple-ingredient purees plus soft-cooked chunks of food. This stage is all about giving your baby time to learn how to chew and swallow small pieces of soft foods. Then the next step will be finger foods or table foods.
- age: 9+ months
- combination purees and soft-cooked chunks of food
- also a great way to expose your baby to various food flavors and colors
- features wholesome fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, yogurt, even spices
- easy to make — simply pulse your own meal with a blender to turn it into a baby meal
Stage Three Recipes
Baby-Led Weaning or Finger Foods
As mentioned, Baby-Led Weaning is actually a newer approach to feeding your baby where you skip the puree stages altogether. Instead, you serve small chunks or strips of cooked food right from the very start. Ultimately, you would be feeding your baby the exact food you are having at that meal.
However, finger foods can be served to your baby after Stage 3.
To sum up, finger foods and the food you serve to baby for Baby-Led Weaning are the same foods. But they are served at different times during your baby’s eating journey. Finger foods are served at 10+ months, while baby-led weaning starts at 6+ months.
If you want to learn more, check out my Ultimate Guide to Finger Foods for Baby-Led Weaning.
- baby-led weaning age: 6+ months
- finger food age: 10+ months
- both include chunks of cooked foods
- can be served in 2-3 inch strips or chopped to pea-sized pieces
Remember, avoid hard foods such as hot dogs, popcorn, dried fruit, nuts, etc., that can be choking hazards.