by Pheyy & Tira

October 28, 2020

Welcome back!

We are so delighted that your baby is growing steadily.

We are sure that you are asking the same question that is on the lips of several parents, “when should I begin to feed my baby with stage 3, 3rd stage, or 3rd level food?

That’s why you are reading this article.

We have conducted an in-depth study around the subject of feeding babies with 3rd level food, and we will provide you with information that will help you weather through this phase successfully with your baby. 

Let’s dive right into it.

What is Stage 3, Baby Food?

At stages 1 and 2, your baby eats purred food, but at the 3rd stage, you introduce them to lumpy and chunky foods. 

Stage 3 is where your baby begins to feed on individual portions of food that do not create any mess, generally referred to as finger foods.(1)

3rd level baby food also includes lightly-mashed cooked vegetables and finely-diced fruit.

One essential feature of 3rd stage baby food is the mixture of foods with diverse textures and tastes.

In an attempt to feed your baby with 3rd level foods, you are also introducing them to new healthy eating habits that will be useful even in the future.

What is the importance of stage 3 baby foods?

Babies will grow to become adults who will no longer find the required nutrients in purred food. Thus, they need to learn to gnaw and chew food.

But will they learn this in one day? Obviously, NO.

3rd level foods help babies to master the act of gnawing, chewing, and swallowing food without gagging and choking. 

Babies that take 3rd stage baby foods will develop good sensitivity to foods of different kinds, tastes, and textures.

We are sure that you are itching to know precisely when to begin giving your baby 3rd level foods. We are there already.

When should I begin feeding my baby stage 3 foods?

There is no straight jacket answer to this question; however, babies are usually ready for 3rd level foods when they are 9 to 10 months old. 


  • Babies generally start teething around nine months, and they often want food they can chew to relieve the pain associated with teething.
  • 9-month old babies usually have had a lot of practice eating smooth purees of fruit and vegetables; thus, they can eat finger foods.
  • By nine months, babies no longer feel satisfied with breast milk or formula milk.
  • 3rd Stage foods help speed up teething, which begins when babies are about nine months old.

Each baby is unique; thus, we cannot set a hard and fast rule for stage 3 baby food. However, some signs could help you know that you can begin to feed your baby with 3rd level foods.

When your baby

  • Experiences accentuated hand-eye coordination,
  • Grabs things and attempt to chew them with the gum,
  • Reaches out for something you didn’t give them,
  • Tries to grab the spoon when you are feeding them,
  • Does not demonstrate any intolerance for any stage 1 or 2 food,
  • Develops the pincer grasp. (2)

It may be time to move them to 3rd level foods.

We believe that you desire to know the foods you can feed your baby within the 3rd stage. We'll also provide information on' that.

Which foods can I give my baby in stage 3?

At the 3rd stage, you can feed your baby with almost any kind of food; however, you must ensure that the baby can mush the food easily. 

How do you ensure that babies can mush food easily?

  • Cut up a large chunk of foods into smaller pieces.
  • Boil grains till they are very soft
  • Mash fruit 
  • Shred meats

You must know that at the 3rd stage, solid foods become an essential part of your baby’s diet; thus, ensure that you feed them with nutritious solid foods.

Rather than providing your baby with only rice cereal, use fortified baby cereals like oats, barley, and multigrain.

Why is it wrong to feed your baby with rice cereal only?

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, your baby risks being exposed to Arsenic when fed with rice cereals. (3)

Other food recommendations for the 3rd stage include:

  • Well-cooked vegetables
  • Scrambled egg
  • Well-cooked shredded meat
  • Soft cheese
  • Mashed ripe fruit (remove seeds from seed-fruit)
  • Well-cooked pasta
  • Soft beans
  • Cooked carrot
  • Salmon
  • English pea
  • Boiled yam
  • Boiled potatoes
  • Firm tofu

Why do we recommend feeding your baby with a variety of these solid foods?

  • They supply your baby with the needed nutrients for healthy growth and development.
  • They serve as a foundation for more complex foods.
  • They help the baby to realize the difference between different food textures.
  • They make your baby familiar with the motor and sensory changes that are happening in their body.

As soon as your baby gets used to these first 3rd level foods, you can progress to more advanced 3rd level baby foods.

Some healthy and nutritious combinations of foods for 3rd level babies are discussed as follows.

  • Pasta and Chicken meatballs: Ditalini is an example of an excellent tiny pasta fed to 3rd level babies. It would be best if you cooked the pasta until it is very soft to aid easy chewing. To supply protein in the diet, add chicken meatballs to the food.
  • Carrot pasta: This meal provides babies with adequate vitamins for healthy growth. To prepare this meal, you need five medium carrots, ½ coriander teaspoon, ½ orange zest teaspoon, and ½ dry pasta. 
  • Broccoli, Beef Meatloaf, and Butternut Squash: Your baby gets a lot of protein and iron from this combination. Be sure to cut the broccoli into bits to aid comfortable mushing.
  • Sweet potato, sausage, and Egg bite: This combination provides calcium, iron, and protein for your baby. You can prepare it by layering egg bites with sweet potatoes and Italian sausage.
  • English pea, potato, and Salmon cake: When you pair organic English pea with potato and salmon cake seasoned with lemon, you provide a nutritious vitamin-filled diet for your baby.

All the 3rd level food options we have discussed are homemade. There are commercially prepared 3rd stage baby food that you can buy from a store if you do not have enough time to prepare stage 3 baby food at home.

Some of them are:

What are the tips for preparing stage 3 baby foods?

General tips for preparing homemade stage 3 foods are highlighted below.


Always add a formula, breast milk, or water to cooked cereals and mashed grains to make chewing and swallowing easier for your baby


Smoothen fruits, vegetables, and other foods by pureeing or mashing them.


Ensure that you cook solid foods until you can easily mash them with a fork before giving them to your baby.


Cook hard fruits and vegetables like carrots and apple to make it easier to mash them.


Slice soft food so that your baby does not choke while trying to swallow them.


Remove all bones, fat, and skin from fish, meat, and poultry before cooking them or giving them to your baby.


Cut sphere-shaped fruits like grapes, berries, Altand cherries into small pieces so that your baby can easily mush them.


Slice cylinder-shaped foods like sausage, hot dogs, among others, into small pieces, so they don’t choke your baby.


Ensure that you cook and mash or finely-grind wheat, oats, barley, and other whole grains before giving them to your baby.

Read: This Step-by-Step Making Baby Food Guide Will Change Your Food Prep 10x Easier!

Now that we have discussed 3rd level foods extensively, we are sure that you want to know how best to move your baby from stage 2 to stage 3 baby foods; thus, you ask...

How do I move my baby from stage 2 baby foods to stage 3 foods?

You must know that there are significant differences between stage 2 and 3rd level baby foods. The feel and sensory experience of the two food stages are entirely different for the baby.

So, what?

You need to be methodical and patient while moving your baby from stage 2 foods to 3rd level foods. (3)

The following tips should help.


Monitor your baby as they experiment with foods referred to as “hard munchables.” These are goods that can help your baby to feel different textures and learn tongue movement. They include beef jerky, celery sticks, stale liquorice, among others. 


 When your baby has practiced with the hard munchables, you can progress to giving them meltable solids such as veggie sticks, graham crackers, among others.


As soon as you are through with that, move on to giving your baby soft cubes of food cut to about pinky nail size. Here, you can feed your baby with bits of cooked carrots and potatoes and sliced bananas.


After this, progress to portions of pasta, lunch meats, and other soft mechanical foods.


From here, you can now begin to feed your baby with the homemade and commercially prepared 3rd level foods that have been discussed earlier in this article.

We are sure that you are aware that red flags are to evade when giving 3rd level foods to your baby, and you want to know them. So, we believe the next question on your mind is

What are the precautions to take when feeding my baby with stage 3 foods?

As mentioned earlier, 3rd level foods are significantly different from stage 2 foods, and the risk of choking is heightened with stage 3 baby food than with stage 2 food.

Discussed below are some warnings to keep in mind as you transition your baby to stage 3 foods.

  • Do not rush: At the 3rd level, you should help your baby develop good chewing skills. However, be careful to go at the pace of your baby. We have said that all babies are unique; therefore, pay close attention as you feed your child with 3rd level foods to ensure they do not choke. It is also profitable to follow the steps discussed in transitioning from stage 2 to stage 3 religiously. But if you are sure that your baby is good to go, you can skip any of the steps as required – there are no hard and fast rules about it.
  • Do not feed your baby with these kinds of food: Even though we have established that almost all kinds of foods are suitable for stage 3 babies, you must not feed your baby with heavily sweetened and salted foods. Some of the foods to evade are
    1. Hard sweets
    2. Candies
    3. Popcorn
    4. Whole Raisins
    5. Whole peanuts
    6. Crackers
    7. Bacon
    8. Chips with salt
    9. Seeds
  • Avoid Juice: You should not feed your baby with juice until they are one year old. First, it increases the chances of tooth decay. Second, it reduces the appetite of the baby for really nutritious food. Furthermore, your baby can come down with diarrhea, diaper rash, or excessive weight gain when you feed them with too much juice.
  • Avoid honey: Never feed your baby with honey until they are over one year old. Your baby risks contracting botulism when they are fed with honey before they are one year old.
  • Avoid rice drinks: We have said earlier that babies in stage 3 should not be fed with rice cereal only to prevent them from coming down with Arsenic. In addition to this, it is safe to mention that children under five years old should not be fed with rice drinks in place of infant formula or breast milk.
  • Avoid marlin, shark, and swordfish: These foods contain high mercury levels that can interfere with the healthy development of your baby’s nervous system.

We are sure that the information provided in this article has benefitted you in no small way. We are sure that you and your baby will have a good time together in stage 3.

About the author

Hi, my name is Michael L. Green and I live in Cleveland, OH with my wonderful wife,
our two little girls. Our family are the founder and primary contributors behind Baby Edible.

Welcome to our blog!

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