Starting solid foods is a big step

If your baby is eyeing your food, sitting up on her own or even reaching for food, she may be telling you she is ready to try solids. There are many ways to decide if your infant is ready to take a bite out of solids.

From a nutritional standpoint, breast milk no longer meets a baby’s needs for iron and zinc at six months of age. This is when most experts suggest introducing solid foods to your baby. Whichever food you decide to introduce to your baby first, be sure it is rich in iron or zinc. Anaemic babies are a common concern in North America, as we do not tend to offer enough iron rich-foods. The most popular first food is infant rice cereal because it is fortified with iron, and has a low allergen risk. Plus, you can slowly accustom your little one to thicker textures by gradually thickening the cereal. Beans and fortified meats are also foods that are rich in iron and zinc, and are great solids to start with.

Please do

  • Include your baby at meal times to help accustom them to dining behaviours.
  • Offer your baby a small, baby-safe spoon to play with at the table, even before you start solids.
  • Introduce new foods earlier in the day so you aren’t up at night worrying about a potential allergy.
  • Wait three days before introducing the next new food, to help you identify if your baby has a food aversion.
  • Focus on iron and zinc-rich foods like beans, meat and cereal. Then, move into vegetables and fruit.
  • Move through the cereals slowly: rice to barley to oats to multigrain.
  • Introduce small, soft fingers foods like avocado, banana, cooked beans or sweet potato when your baby is ready (usually around nine months).
  • Buy organic whenever possible. Organic foods contain fewer chemicals (and, organic-packaged foods tend to contain fewer additives and preservatives).
  • Watch for rashes, diarrhea, diaper rashes and swelling as signs of reactions to foods.
  • Have fun with it. Starting solids is fun and a great opportunity to spend quality time with your baby.

Please don’t

  • Get frustrated; it can take time for some babies to get accustomed to solids.
  • Stop breastfeeding or giving formula; that is still your baby’s primary source of nutrition.
  • Leave your child to eat unattended.
  • Fear making your own baby food. Simply take beans, vegetables or meat, then cook, mash, and freeze in ice cube trays. It’s easy!
  • Reach for processed baby foods. They contain added sugar and salt. Frozen or homemade are better options.
  • Give your baby hot foods. Room temperature is always safe if you’re unsure. Remember, they’re more sensitive to temperature than we are.
  • Be alarmed if your baby’s appetite goes up and down like a rollercoaster. Teething, illness, and even fatigue can affect your baby’s appetite.
  • Push it. It’s your job to offer nutritious foods. It’s your baby’s job to decide how much, if any, to eat.
  • Offer corn frequently – it holds very little nutritional value and generally results in messy diapers.
  • Be in a rush to try potential allergens: wheat, corn, strawberries, fish, peanuts, honey, nuts, soy.
  • Forget about Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. Baby’s need 400 IU a day.

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