Solid Foods - Starting Off Right

By Anne Birks, MHSc, RPDt, Dietitian/Nutrition Consultant on March 13, 2007
Breast milk is all the food your baby needs for about six months. You can tell that your baby is ready for solid foods when he (or she) holds up his head, begins chewing motions and uses his tongue to move food into his mouth, instead of pushing it out.
  • Start with rice cereal with added iron. Barley and oat cereals are good next choices. Begin with one teaspoon and gradually add more. Feed your baby cereal from a spoon. Do not add cereal to a bottle.
    Continue giving infant cereal until 18 to 24 months of age.

Six to Eight Months

At the end of eight months, start giving your child strained food, one at a time, one week apart.
  • Start your baby with strained, cooked vegetables such as potatoes (white or sweet), squash, peas, green or waxed beans, broccoli and cauliflower.
  • When preparing turnips, carrots, beets and spinach, don't use the cooking water to blend the vegetables. Use fresh water. (Commercial strained baby vegetables are fine.)
  • Next, add strained fruits to your baby's diet, such as peaches, pears, apricots, applesauce, plums, bananas and nectarines. Don't add any sweeteners.
  • Use fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables or buy strained commercial baby foods. Don't give your baby canned adult foods. They may contain too much salt or sugar. Don't give your baby fruits with small seeds - such as strawberries, grapes and raspberries - until 18 to 24 months. Make baby foods at home using a blender or buy quality commercial baby food.

Eight to Nine Months

Now, it is important to add foods with more texture. If these foods aren't introduced now, your child may resist eating them later.
  • Give small pieces of cooked vegetables and peeled fruit. Fruit juice (diluted by half with water) may be given. Serve it in a cup. (Nutritionists recommend starting juice now instead of at four months because you can serve it in a cup and avoid using a bottle.) Until now, your baby has received enough Vitamin C from breast milk or formula.
  • Let your baby try a variety of juices, such as orange, mango, apple and grape. A total of four ounces (120 ml) is plenty for one day.
    Don't use powdered fruit drinks or desserts made with sugar.
  • Your baby is ready to start eating strained chicken, beef, veal, assorted fish, tofu and well-cooked beans. These are all good sources of protein. Start with one tablespoon and increase slowly until, by 12 months, your baby eats six tablespoons per day.
  • You can give your baby hard-cooked egg yolk mixed with a little milk or water. Don't give egg white until your baby is one year old; some babies have an allergy to the egg white protein.
  • By now, your baby may be teething. Dry toast and rusks help a baby learn to chew.
    If you buy baby teething biscuits, choose biscuits with no sugar.
  • Don't give your baby small, hard pieces of food such as nuts, raw peas, kernel corn, popcorn, berries, raw carrots, apple or celery. Babies may choke on these foods. Also, don't give gum or candies.

Nine to 12 Months

Breast milk is by far the best food for your baby. The next best choice is iron-fortified formula.

Homogenized, whole cows milk can be introduced if your baby is eating a balanced diet of iron-fortified infant cereal, fruits and vegetables, and meats and meat alternatives.
  • You can give your baby plain yogurt with no less than 3.5% milk fat (M.F.), mashed cheese (4% M.F.) or grated cheese. Your baby is now ready for adult food, as long as it is mashed or chopped. Don't add salt, sugar or butter.
  • Lumpy foods help your baby learn to chew and enjoy a greater variety of foods. You can give your child finger foods, such as peeled fruit, pieces of cooked vegetables, dry cereal, milk, cheese and crackers.
  • By now, your baby likes to pick up and eat finger foods such as pieces of peeled fruit, pieces of cooked vegetables, dry cereal, milk, cheese and crackers.
  • After your baby's first birthday, you can give him cooked egg (the white and the yolk).

Sample Eating Pattern - 6 to 7 months

Time of Feeding & Food/Amount

Early Morning
6 to 8 oz. (175 to 250 ml) breast milk
3 to 5 tbsp (45 to 75 ml) infant cereal

Afternoon
6 to 8 oz. (175 to 250 ml) breast milk
1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 30 ml) vegetable

Evening
6 to 8 oz. (175 to 250 ml) breast milk
3 to 5 tbsp (45 to 75 ml) infant cereal
1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 30 ml) fruit

Late
Milk is not needed if your baby sleeps through the night



By Anne Birks, MHSc, RPDt, Dietitian/Nutrition Consultant| March 13, 2007

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