When to start solids and first foods.
Your baby is ready to start solid food when she can:
- Sit and hold her head up.
- Watch and open her mouth for the spoon.
- Move food with her tongue from the front to back of mouth.
- Choose a time when your baby is content, interested and alert.
- Be patient as it may take over 10 times before your baby will accept a new food.
- Wait for your baby to open their mouth before you offer food on the spoon.
- Cool hot food and test it before giving it to your baby.
- Offer solids two to three times per day when your baby is six to eight months.
Choosing first foods
Offer high iron foods. Iron is important for overall growth as well as brain and motor development. Babies are born with a certain amount of iron stores from their mother. At about six months of age, the stores are diminished and breast milk does not provide enough to meet iron requirements. Try foods like:
- Well-cooked, finely minced meat, chicken, turkey or fish (moistened with breast milk or cooking water)
- Iron-fortified baby cereal
- Mashed cooked egg
- Mashed legumes such as beans, lentils or tofu
What about texture?
Homemade food is best. Once your baby is eating high-iron foods, add a cooked vegetable or fruit to the meal. Mash it with a fork, rather than pureeing. This will encourage chewing. Progress to small pieces of soft food.
Can babies feed themselves?
Finger foods are a great way for babies to learn how to feed themselves. Giving your baby their own little spoon helps them learn to use utensils.
The foods that most commonly cause allergic reactions are:
- Tree nuts
These foods can be introduced starting at about six months of age. Offering these foods one at a time may make it easier to identify the culprit food should an allergic reaction occur.
If your baby has severe eczema or egg allergy, or a parent or sibling with asthma, hay fever, or allergy, speak to your health care provider before your child is four to six months old about introducing these foods.
Vitamin and mineral supplements
If your toddler is eating a variety of foods from all four food groups and is growing well, they should not need any extra supplements, except for vitamin D.
- 0-12 months: a 400 IU liquid vitamin D supplement per day is required for babies who are getting breast milk. Babies that are only fed formula will get enough vitamin D from the formula and do not need a supplement.
- 12 months - 2 years: a 400 IU liquid vitamin D supplement per day is required for toddlers who are breastfed. Toddlers who are drinking two to three cups of homogenized cow's milk do not require a vitamin D supplement. If a toddler is not drinking cow’s milk, or is drinking less than two cups of cow’s milk per day, they will need a vitamin D supplement.
Vitamin D supplements can be purchased at pharmacies and grocery stores.