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Baby Matters

Starting Your Baby on Solid Foods: Questions & Answers

March 1st, 2017

Submitted by the Healthy Parents, Healthy Children Team

Starting your baby on solid foods is an exciting milestone that can be fun and messy and, like most new things in parenting, comes with lots of questions. Here are some common questions and answers to help your baby get off to a healthy start with solids.

When should I start offering my baby solid foods?

Around 6 months of age, your baby will show you that they’re ready to start eating solid foods when they’re able to:

  •    have good control of their head
  •    sit upright in a high chair or baby chair
  •    open their mouth wide when food is offered
  •    move food to the back of the mouth with their tongue

If you start before your baby is ready, they may not take enough breastmilk or infant formula to meet their nutritional needs.

What foods should I offer first?

Your baby’s supply of iron is nearly used up by about 6 months of age. Choose starter foods rich in iron to help your grow and develop.  Here are some examples:

  •    iron-fortified infant cereals
  •    well-cooked and pureed: beef, pork, lamb, veal, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, black beans, kidney beans
  •    tofu

Once iron-rich foods are started, your baby can have other foods in any order you choose—as long as the texture is appropriate. Offer a variety of foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, plain yogurt and cheeses along with iron-rich foods.

What texture should I offer?

Your baby learns to chew and swallow by trying new textures. Most babies need pureed food for only a short time—they can move to lumpy foods very quickly. Babies move through textures at their own pace. As they get older, a greater variety of textures will help them learn how to chew.

How much food can I offer?

Start with 5 – 15 ml (1 – 3 tsp.) of smooth or pureed food. Offer more food if your baby is still showing signs of hunger like smacking their lips or opening their mouth when food is offered. Stop feeding when they turn their head or close their mouth─ they may be telling you that they’re full.

What about food allergies?

Delaying introduction to certain foods like peanuts, eggs, wheat and fish hasn’t been shown to prevent food allergies. Start with one new food at a time and leave 2-3 days in between each new food you offer.  This will give you time to see if a new food causes an allergic reaction.

Babies with a confirmed food allergy should be followed closely by their healthcare provider.  

Where can I go for more information?

To learn more, visit HealthyParentsHealthyChildren.ca

The above information contains excerpts from Alberta Health Services’ Healthy Parents, Healthy Children print and online resources. For more information on topics related to pregnancy and being a parent and for information on where you can pick up free print copies of the Healthy Parents, Healthy Children resources, go to HealthyParentsHealthyChildren.ca.

The Healthy Parents, Healthy Children team is a part of the larger Healthy Children and Families’ team at Alberta Health Services. Find us on Facebook at Healthy Parents, Healthy Children or follow us on Twitter @AHS_HPHC. For questions or comments, please contact hphc@ahs.ca.

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