Introducing Stage 3 Foods for Babies: Age, Food Ideas & Recipes

Stage 3 Foods For Babies – What Are They & When to Introduce

By Stage 3, breast milk or formula milk should become a supplementary diet. Training a baby to eat baby food as their main diet is one of the key things involved in Stage three baby food. Preparation must involve introducing a variety of foods that are suitable for their age in a scheduled and patterned manner to give them a wider palate and enjoy a balanced healthy meal. Babies should have ample opportunity to chew with their growing teeth and must be offered food in soft cubes or chunks that are easy to chew. Textured food combos help in digestion and learning to taste the food and trigger their taste buds.

Video: Stage 3 Baby Foods – What They Are & When to Introduce

What’s Stage 3 Baby Food?

baby food stage 3

At Stage 3 of your baby’s food sojourn, it is important to include chunky and lumpy foods. Stage 3 foods also include finger foods that babies can hold with a pincer grasp. Foods which can be sliced into bite-sized portions or mashed food with chunks to bite is the right consistency. Cooked vegetables mashed lightly or cereals with fruits diced finely are ideal to start at this stage. It is important to try various permutations and combinations of food with different tastes and textures at Stage 3. Level 3 baby food is also about introducing new eating skills ( chewing) and getting your baby to explore and learn healthy eating habits for the future.

Why is this Stage Important?

Babies at this stage must learn to roll chunks in their mouths, gnaw and chew them and finally swallow it all without choking and gagging. The whole process is a sensory practice which takes it time to develop but your baby will learn it. Stage 3 purees (especially thick) and baby foods are important as they will help the baby to learn this sensory practice. It exposes the baby to different tastes and textures. This stage is vital to develop their sensitivities to different kinds of food.

When to Introduce Stage 3 Food

Most parents are clueless about the age when Stage 3 foods can be introduced. Stage 3 purees and baby food with chunks can be introduced to babies at around 9 months of age. By this time your child will well have had a great deal of practice of eating smooth purees of vegetables and fruits. Babies at this stage are also on a lesser routine of breast milk or formula milk. Chunky puree food is what a Stage 3  food plan for your baby should look like and nine months of age is the right time to introduce it. By this time, kids start teething and will be looking for things to chew on to help them relieve the pain of their emerging tooth. Chunky purees are a great way to help chewing tendencies and also speed up the process of teething.

How to Know if an Infant is Ready for Stage 3 Foods?

If your baby has made it through pureed, liquefied vegetables, soupy vegetables and squashed dinners, then it is probably time to move to the next stage. After about 6 months you will notice that your baby has an increased hand-eye coordination. They will be reaching out to things, trying to grab them or tip them over. All these are signs of them moving closer to becoming independent ( either with a spoon or hand). The pincer grasp develops at around 8-12 months of age and at this time babes can move past traditional pureed foods. At this time they can hold small pieces of food that are soft with their finger and thumb and bring it closer to the mouth. Babies who also start to grab things and chew them with their gums are ready to move to Stage 3. This is a clear indication that they are getting their first set of teeth and are ready to exercise their gums. Some babies will even try to grab a spoon.

Stage 3 Food Ideas

stage 3 foods

At Stage 3, any kind of food will be right as long as the texture is right. You could serve the food your family is having but make sure the chunks are easy to chew. You need to cut up the food into tinier pieces. Solid food is taking a significant role in their diet and it is important to offer foods that are nutritious. Exposing babies to a variety of foods helps them to develop taste and lays the groundwork for a life-long healthy eating lifestyle. There are a few recommended foods that are a good choice for Stage 3 foods. You could try your own varieties apart from these:

  • Any kind of vegetables cooked well.
  • Mashed ripe fruits ( mashed or cut bananas are great at this Stage).
  • Shredded meat which is well-cooked.
  • Cheese that is soft.
  • Well-cooked pasta.
  • Scrambled eggs.
  • Tiny pieces of tofu.

How to Make a Safe Transition From Stage 2 to Stage 3?

Stage 3 foods look very different, feel different and are an entirely different sensory experience for the baby. These foods come in multiple colours and different shapes, with each spoonful presenting a different texture. Instead of one smooth texture, Stage 3 introduces soft, thick, thin, squishy and rough textures. The smell of the food will be different and babies have to work their gums, mouth, jaw and tongue. Stage 3 foods need different motor skills too. Some foods need lesser effort to chew while some may need to be rolled in the mouth, gnawed and chewed. In a nutshell, a child has to make considerable effort to adapt to Stage 3 foods. Here are a few tips on how to start stage 3 foods:

  • Get your baby to experiment with some “ hard munchies” like celery sticks, cucumber sticks. The aim should not be for them to swallow it but munch it. It is fine if they chew and spit it out.
  • The next step should be to progress to solids that will melt in the mouth. Crackers, vegetable sticks, tiny biscuits are good choices.
  • The next step will be to offer soft cubes of cooked food like cubed cooked potatoes, cubed cooked carrots or bananas.
  • Then try “softer” foods like cooked pasta, muffins or lunch meats.

Once babies are used to the above, they will be ready for Stage 3 foods with mixed textures and different tastes.

Healthy Stage 3 Food Recipes For Babies

A few homemade Stage 3 baby food recipes to help you get started with:

1. Carrot Pasta

A healthy meal with hidden vegetables, this is a great Stage 2 and Stage 3 food recipe for babies and toddlers. It is also a great baby-led weaning lunch or dinner.


  • 5 medium carrots.
  • ½ dry pasta ( of any shape).
  • ½ teaspoon coriander.
  • ½ teaspoon of orange zest.


  • Fill a saucepan with water to about ¾ of its capacity. Add the carrots and cook them for about 10 minutes. Stick a fork to see if they are cooked. Once cooled, drain the water and transfer it to a blender.
  • Boil the drained water in the saucepan and add the pasta. Cook for about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the coriander and orange zest to the carrots and puree for about 3 minutes. Add water if necessary.
  • Transfer the pasta and carrots to the saucepan and mix it well.

2. Cheese and Potato Mash

A great way of including carbohydrates and calcium to your baby’s diet, this is a great recipe that can be made in a variety of ways.


  • ½ medium-sized potato.
  • 1/3 slice of cheese.
  • 2 big spoonfuls of breastmilk (optional).
  • 2 big spoonfuls of formula milk ( optional).


  • Wash the potato and chop them in cubes.
  • Cook the potato pieces in water until soft and mushy.
  • Add the breast milk or formula milk to the mashed potato. Mix it well.
  • Cut the cheese slice into small pieces of 0.5 cms.
  • Add the cheese to the potato mixture and mix well.
  • Serve it in your child’s favourite container.

3. Oatmeal With Beets And Carrot

Yummy vegetable breakfast packed with spices and raising makes for a meal that your toddler cannot resist.


  • 2 cups of water or milk.
  • 1 cup oats.
  • ½ red beetroot.
  • 1 carrot peeled, chopped and shredded.
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves.
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg.
  • 2 tablespoon raisins.


  • Bring water to a boil in a saucepan and add the carrots, beetroot, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and raisins. Give them a stir, cover and cook on low heat.
  • Cook this until all the water is evaporated and everything is cooked well.
  • Let the mixture cool.
  • Once it is cooled, add the oatmeal and blend well in a food processor. Add in extra water, breast milk or formula milk if you need to.

Foods You Should Avoid In Stage 3

baby eating

Although, Stage 3 is when you would want your child to work on their chewing skills, you must not rush into introducing any kind of food that could result in potential choking or reflux. You must also avoid foods that are heavily salted or sweetened foods. The following could be avoided for a couple of more months:

  • Raisins (whole).
  • Hard sweets and candies.
  • Popcorn.
  • Whole peanuts.
  • Whole grapes.
  • Hot dogs.
  • Seeds.

Warnings And Considerations

Paediatricians do recommend some stages of baby food at certain ages. Marked by age and development guidelines, these foods make the jobs of parents easy and get the child to become independent eaters. Age recommendations, however, are more of a guideline. What is important is the comfort level of the child. If your child chokes or refuses to eat Stage 3 food, then leave it and try again after a few days. You child will cough a little at the start as they start experiencing the thicker consistency and lumpier foods. This should not deter you. Keep monitoring their progress and adaptability and make alterations accordingly. The baby formula at Stage 3 can be continued along with new foods introduced. Cow’s milk must not be introduced before the baby completes one year of age. Other than a few exceptions that pose risk to the baby, Stage 3 is when you can introduce a great range of foods to the baby.

The transition from Stage 3 food to regular food will not take very long. Your baby will turn one within a few months of starting on Stage 1 foods and eating will become a family activity. Enjoy this final leap of presenting fun and delicious recipes. Keep continuing the effort even if your baby resists it until they adapt to exploring their own tastes.

Also Read:

3 Stages Of Baby Food
Introducing Solid Food To Baby’s Meal
What Should Be First Foods For Baby

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