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Introducing Solid Food to Your Baby

father feeding solid foods to his baby

Introducing solid foods can be an exciting time for parents and caregivers. Use these tips to help you get started.

When can I introduce solids to my baby?

You can introduce solids at around six months. Solid foods give your baby extra energy, iron and other nutrients needed for healthy growth. Your baby is ready to start solids when they:

  • Have good head control
  • Can sit up and lean forward
  • Can pick up food and try to put it in their mouth
  • Can turn their head away to let you know they are full

What textures should I start with?

Start your baby with a variety of textures, such as pureed, mashed, lumpy, ground or finely minced foods. You can also give your baby soft finger foods starting at six months to help them learn how to feed themselves.

What solid foods should I start with?

Start with iron-rich foods like:

  • Soft-cooked pureed, mashed or finely chopped beef, chicken or pork
  • Mashed or finely chopped low sodium canned salmon with bones mashed or removed
  • Well-cooked mashed eggs, tofu, lentils or beans
  • Iron-fortified infant cereals mixed with breastmilk or infant formula

After iron-rich foods, choose nutrient-dense foods prepared with little or no added sugar or salt. Some examples include:

  • Vegetables: Well-cooked mashed sweet potato and squash, soft-cooked pieces of broccoli and carrots 
  • Fruit: Pieces of mango, pears, peaches and banana
  • Full fat cheese and yogurt: Grated cheddar, mozzarella and Swiss, plain cottage cheese and plain yogurt
  • Other grain products: Strips of whole grain toast, “O” shaped cereals and well-cooked pasta
Avoid foods that are choking hazards. These foods may be offered if cut into smaller pieces (grapes, cherry tomatoes), grated or cooked to soft texture (carrots, apples). More information can be found at Introducing Solid Food to Your Baby: Safety Tips.

Tip: You can offer solids before or after you breastfeed or give infant formula. Try this sample meal plan for feeding your baby.

How should I introduce solid foods?

Try these tips:

  • Include your baby at family mealtimes.
  • Put a small amount of food on the tip of a small spoon or in front of your baby. Wait until your baby opens their mouth before you feed them or allow your baby to pick up the food and feed themselves.
  • If your baby reaches for the spoon, let them feed themselves.
  • Allow your baby to explore foods with their fists and fingers. Let them make a mess.
  • Avoid distractions like TV, toys and phone calls. This will help you and your baby focus on eating.
  • Cut foods into small pieces to avoid choking.
  • Offer one new food at a time. If you are concerned about food allergies, introduce one food per day with a two-day period in between.
  • Always supervise your baby while eating and make sure they have supported seating.
  • Offer a variety of textures from thin purees to soft finger foods (lumpy, tender-cooked, finely minced, pureed, mashed, ground) no later than 9 months.

How much solid food should my baby eat?

  • Let your baby decide how much to eat when introducing solid foods. Your baby will will open their mouth when they are hungry. They will close their mouth, turn their head away or push food away when they are full. Never try to force your baby to eat.
  • A good starting point is to offer iron-rich foods about two times a day such as at breakfast and lunch. Offer 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 mL) of a few foods and see how much your baby eats. Start slowly and offer more if your baby wants more. Gradually work towards including solid foods three to five times a day depending on your baby’s cues and appetite while continuing to breastfeed.
  • From nine to 11 months you can offer solids four to five times a day increasing the frequency as your baby gets older. It’s normal if your baby eats a different amount from one day to the next.

What if my baby refuses new solid foods?

It may take 15 tries or more for your baby to accept a new food. This is common. Don’t force your baby to eat. Instead, try these tips:

  • Offer the food again in a few days without pressure.
  • Mix solid food with breastmilk or infant formula to make it more familiar to your baby.
  • Let your baby feed themselves with their fingers or fists.
  • Serve the food at different temperatures.

Try these other tips to encourage your baby to eat solids:

  • Offer solids when you think your baby is most hungry.
  • Make sure your baby is not getting too much breastmilk or infant formula. Your baby may not be hungry for solid foods if they have had too much to drink.
  • Feed your baby when you or other family members are eating.
  • It is normal for babies to refuse new foods, change their minds about foods they ate before, or want the same food every day. Continue to offer them a variety of different textures and foods at mealtimes.

Bottom Line

Every baby is different when it comes to learning to eat solid foods. It may take many tries before your child accepts them. Offer a variety of textures and foods without pressure. You are responsible for what foods are offered, when and where. Your baby is responsible for if they eat and how much. 

The food you provide should reflect specific family foods, meals and eating patterns. By 12 months your child should be eating a wide variety of family foods.

If you have questions or concerns, talk to your health care provider or dietitian.

You may also be interested in:

Transitioning Your Baby from Breastmilk to Cow’s Milk
All About Homemade Baby Food
All About Store Bought Baby Food
Food Allergies and Babies

Last Update – September 14, 2019

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