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Introducing Solid Foods

 

Exclusive Breastfeeding

  • Breastmilk is the only food your baby needs for the first six months to grow and be healthy.1
  • If you give your baby any other food, you may make less breastmilk, which can lead to stopping breastfeeding earlier.1
  • Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months means that only breast milk, vitamins and medications are given to baby in the first six months of life.1
  • Once your baby is ready for other foods at about six months, you can still continue to breastfeed until your child is two years old or longer.2

Vitamin D

All babies who are breastfed should be given a daily vitamin D supplement.1 Your breastfed baby needs 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D as a supplement.1 They are sold as drops at pharmacies. Continue to give the supplement until your baby is two years of age and is getting vitamin D from their diet.2 There is usually no need to give other vitamins to a baby. You can find more information in our Vitamin D for Breastfed Babies fact sheet.

When to start solid foods: 6 months

Your baby is ready to start solid foods at about 6 months of age.2  Breast milk is still the most important food, but extra nutrients like iron are needed from food.

At 6 months, look for all of these signs that your baby is ready for solids:2 

  • Baby is six months old (give or take a few weeks).
  • Baby holds her head up.
  • Baby sits up in a high chair at the family table.
  • Baby opens her mouth wide when you offer a spoon.
  • Baby turns her face away if she doesn’t want the food.
  • Baby closes her lips over the spoon.
  • Baby keeps food in her mouth and swallows it instead of pushing it out.
 

Baby’s First Foods

At six months, it is important to offer iron-rich foods such as:2

  • Meat, chicken, turkey
  • Fish
  • Cooked eggs (poached, boiled, scrambled)
  • Tofu
  • Well-cooked legumes such as beans, lentils, and chick peas
  • Iron fortified infant cereal

After baby has started eating iron-rich foods and is offered them twice a day, offer other foods like vegetables and fruits, food made with whole grains, and milk products like yogurt and cheese.2 No particular order is recommended. Wait until 9-12 months when your baby is eating a variety of iron-rich foods before introducing homogenized milk (3.25% milk fats). Offer homogenized milk in an open cup.

Homemade baby food can be a healthy choice. Choose nutritious ingredients, cook and store foods properly and be extra careful about cleanliness. The Health Unit's Baby Food Basics videos provide step-by-step guides on how to make your own baby food (PDF 436KB).

Include your baby in family meals. Family meals help to teach babies better eating habits. Enjoying meals as a family may also help encourage babies and children to try new foods. Do not get discouraged if your baby does not seem to like a food. They often need to try a new food multiple times before they will eat it regularly.

 

 
  • QuinoaBaby Flavour Twist #1
    Peel and steam 2 apples and 4 carrots. Mix with 3 tbsp of cooked quinoa. Blend or mash to desired consistency. Quinoa is a good source of protein, iron and fibre.3
 

 

Introducing solid foods to your baby may change their bowel habits. It is important to remember that different babies will have different bowel habits. Some babies may have more than one bowel movement a day, while other babies might skip a day or two. Many parents become concerned that their baby might become constipated after introducing solid foods. Constipation can cause stomach pain, bloating, gas, poor appetite and crankiness. Luckily, true constipation is rare. For more information, check out the Bowel Habits (PDF 231 KB) handout. 

Texture

Offer a variety of soft textures such as finely minced, mashed, ground, lumpy foods and finger foods to your baby starting at 6 months of age.2 This helps your baby develop chewing and swallowing skills. By one year of age, very few puréed foods should be offered.2

Family foods can be mashed with a fork and served on a spoon, cut into pieces the size of a green pea or cut into soft “strips”. Most babies will not learn to use a fork or spoon well until after 1 year of age.

Food Allergies2

An allergy is an abnormal reaction of the immune system to a protein in food. Food allergies are more common if a baby’s sibling or parent have allergies, asthma or eczema. Symptoms of food allergies may include diarrhea, vomiting, skin rash, hives and breathing problems. 

Some foods are more likely to cause allergies than others. It is still recommended that you offer these foods to your baby at 6 months.The only foods your baby should not have are honey before one year and homogenized milk to drink before 9-12 months.2

Introduce only one of the allergenic foods (listed below) every two days:

  • whole eggs, milk, mustard, fish and shellfish, sesame, soy, tree nut butters (e.g., almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter), wheat products, including wheat-based infant cereals.

During this two-day waiting period, look for signs of a food allergy in your baby. If there is a reaction, it will likely appear within 48 hours. If you think your baby has an allergy, contact your doctor. When introducing foods not found in the list above, you do not need to wait before introducing another new food.

 

 
  • Sweet PotatoBaby Flavour Twist #2
    Steam or bake 1 large sweet potato. Mix with 1 cup rinsed, drained canned black beans and 1 tbsp fat (i.e. margarine, olive oil). Puree or mash to desired consistency. Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin A and fibre.4
 

Feeding Your Vegetarian Baby (PDF 359 KB)

A vegetarian diet that includes foods from the four food groups of Canada’s Food Guide will help your baby grow well and be healthy. However, a vegetarian diet that lacks too many nutrients may put your baby’s growth and health at risk. 

Starting at 6 months, you can introduce iron rich infant cereal and pureed meat alternatives, such as tofu, dried peas, beans and lentils or whole cooked eggs.2 Once your baby is eating iron-rich foods twice a day, offer vegetables, fruit, whole grains and milk or soy products.2

If you have questions or concerns about introducing solid foods to your baby, talk to a Registered Dietitian or your doctor.

 

 
 
Date of creation: January 14, 2013
Last modified on: October 31, 2017
 

References

1Health Canada. (2015, August 18). Nutrition for healthy term infants. Recommendations from birth to six months. Retrieved from
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/index-eng.php
2Health Canada. (2015, January 19). Nutrition for healthy term infants. Recommendations from six to 24 months. Retrieved from
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/recom-6-24-months-6-24-mois-eng.php
3EatRight Ontario. (2016, October 9). All about quinoa Retrieved from
http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Cooking-And-Food/Grain-Products/All-About-Quinoa.aspx
4EatRight Ontario. (2016, October 9). All about sweet potato Retrieved from
http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Cooking/Food-Preparation/All-about-Sweet-Potato.aspx
5EatRight Ontario. (2016, October 9). All about avocados Retrieved from
http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Cooking/Food-Preparation/All-about-avocados.aspx