By the time babies reach eight months, their systems are much more developed and they are able to tolerate a wider range of foods.
Babies usually develop their first teeth between five and seven months, and from around eight months are able to cope with small lumps in their food. It is important to encourage babies to chew at this age, as it exercises their facial muscles in preparation for speaking. Babies' first teeth have thin enamel, making them particularly vulnerable to decay, so it is important to avoid added sugars in food.
From eight months onwards, babies often become interested in getting their own hands on (or in) food. This is the beginning of self-feeding and should be encouraged. Offering babies soft finger foods, such as bread, banana, melon and toast, can help them to develop hand to mouth co-ordination.
Food eaten at this time can influence taste throughout life - babies usually develop their likes and dislikes during their first year. Strong, unnatural processed flavours at this stage can set a pattern for wanting very salty or sugary flavours throughout life.