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Introducing Solid Foods to Your Baby
When to start giving your baby solid foods
Breast milk or iron-fortified formula is the only food that babies need for the first 6 months of life. Breastfed babies need 400 IU of vitamin D each day from a supplement. At about 6 months, you can slowly start to introduce solid foods along with breast milk or formula.footnote 1, footnote 2
Knowing that your baby is ready to eat solid foods
Your baby may be ready to eat solid foods when your baby:
- Is about 6 months old.
- Starts to get curious about foods. Your baby may reach for what you're eating and drinking.
- Can sit alone or with support.
- Has good head and neck control.
- Is able to hold small objects, such as toys or food.
- Can move food to the back of their mouth to swallow.
Introducing solid foods to your baby
There are many ways you can start feeding your baby solid foods. Finding what works for you and your family takes time and practice. Here are some ways you can start giving your baby their first solid foods.
- Think about how you'll feed your baby.
You can give your baby food that is blended, mashed, or soft and cut small. Maybe you'll feed your baby with a small spoon, or maybe you'll let them feed themself. The way you do it might vary by the meal.
- Start with one food at a time before combining them.
That way, if your baby has a reaction, you'll know what food is causing it. Offer your baby iron-rich foods first, such as iron-fortified infant cereal, finely minced meat or fish, mashed cooked egg yolk, mashed beans, or tofu. Try soft vegetables or fruits.
- Introduce foods that may cause an allergic reaction, but do it carefully.
Common food allergies in children are from milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy. Giving these foods may help prevent food allergies. Here's how to start giving foods that may cause a reaction:
- Give a small amount of one food that might cause an allergic reaction. Mix this into food your baby has had before. For example, try mixing some peanut butter into oatmeal, or mix yogurt into applesauce.
- Add one new food that might cause an allergic reaction at a time. Wait a few days before you try a different one.
- Wait and watch for a reaction. Most serious reactions happen within a few minutes. A reaction could be a skin rash, vomiting, diarrhea, or swelling of the lips or face.
- Offer a variety of foods.
Think about the colours, textures, and flavours you offer your baby. Keep in mind that you may have to offer a new food many times before it's accepted.
Good first foods for your baby
There isn't one "best" first food for your baby. Instead, it can be helpful to think about the many first foods your baby will try. These foods can come from a jar or be cooked at home. Either way, make sure foods are served soft and chopped small for your baby to eat.
Here are some good first foods for babies.
These include meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, tofu, beans, peas, and lentils.
- Iron-fortified infant cereals.
Try rice, wheat, or buckwheat cereal.
Think about offering the colours of the rainbow. Serve them as is, or mix them into other foods, such as pasta sauce, mashed beans, or cooked ground meat.
Also keep the colours of the rainbow in mind. Try mixing cooked fruit into cereals or yogurt.
Foods to avoid when introducing foods to your baby
When you start to feed solid foods to your baby, there are some things you want to avoid. Some foods aren't safe or healthy for babies.
Here's a list of foods to avoid for your baby:
- Foods that may cause your baby to choke. These include hot dogs, whole or chopped nuts and seeds, chunks of nut butter, popcorn, raw carrots and apples, and uncut grapes, berries, and cherry tomatoes.
- Honey. Babies shouldn't have honey at all until they're 12 months old.
- Unpasteurized or raw dairy products.
- Fish that's high in mercury. You'll want to avoid serving fresh or frozen tuna (not canned "light" tuna), shark, swordfish, marlin, orange roughy, and escolar.
- Foods and drinks with added sugars. Some examples include cookies, flavoured yogurt, and juice.
- Foods and drinks that have a lot of salt. These include canned soups, processed meats, and frozen meals.
- Health Canada, et al. (2012). Nutrition for healthy term infants: Recommendations from birth to six months. A joint statement of Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, and Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. Available online: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/index-eng.php.
- Health Canada, et al. (2014). Nutrition for healthy term infants: Recommendations from six to 24 months. Health Canada. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/recom-6-24-months-6-24-mois-eng.php. Accessed April 28, 2014.
Current as of: August 3, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine & Emmett Francoeur MD, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics