Your baby is ready to start solid food at about six months old. Solid food provides the extra iron and the added nutrients your baby needs for their healthy growth and development.
It is a new experience for you and your baby and may take time to learn. Your baby will use all their senses by seeing, smelling, touching, hearing and tasting the foods you prepare.
Let your baby decide how much to eat and whether or not to eat. Pay attention to your baby’s hunger and fullness cues. Do not force-feed or refuse to give food to your baby.
Video: Trust Me, Trust My Tummy (15:02). This short video will give you some examples of baby’s hunger and fullness cues.
You can continue to breastfeed your baby throughout the day as this is still your baby’s main source of nutrition. However, at this time, your baby also needs solid food rich in nutrients.
The first solid foods to offer your baby are foods rich in iron. These foods include beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, fish, pork, eggs, tofu, well-cooked legumes such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas and iron-fortified infant cereals.
Iron-rich foods are important for the proper growth and development of your baby. Offer iron-rich foods two or more times a day.
Once you introduce iron-rich foods, along with iron-rich foods, you can offer vegetables and fruit or milk products such as cheese and yogurt in no particular order.
Do not give your baby whole milk until your baby is between nine months and 12 months.
Vitamin C from vegetables and fruit will help your baby absorb iron better, so when your baby eats, include a vegetable and/or fruit.
For vegetarians, offer iron-rich foods at most meals to make sure your baby meets their iron needs.
At six months of age, it is important to provide a variety of foods with soft textures such as lumpy and tender-cooked, finely minced, pureed, mashed, ground and finger foods. Offering finger foods encourages your child to feed themselves.
Here are some examples of safe finger foods to offer your baby:
It is important for baby’s foods to progress quickly to a lumpier texture. Delaying the introduction of lumpy textures beyond nine months is linked to feeding difficulties and to baby eating lower amounts of nutritious foods such as vegetables and fruit as they get older.
When you offer any new food to your baby, it is important to watch for signs of an allergic reaction.
Aim towards giving your baby two to three feedings and one to two snacks per day based on your baby’s appetite and follow your baby’s signs that indicate whether your baby is hungry or full.
From six months you can give your baby small amounts of the same healthy foods that your family is eating with little or no added sugar or salt. Ensure that the food you offer your baby is in the right texture for your baby’s age and will not cause choking. You can also introduce new foods with a variety of flavours and include your baby in family meals.
Common foods that can cause allergic reactions such as peanuts, fish, eggs, wheat, milk products, soy and whole eggs can be introduced at about six months of age. When giving these foods, introduce one of these foods at a time and wait two days before introducing another. This will make it easier for you to identify a food that may have caused an allergic reaction in your baby.
You can continue to breastfeed your baby and continue to provide a variety of foods from Canada’s Food Guide.
You can offer pasteurized, homogenized, whole cow’s milk (3.25% milk fat) to your baby between nine to12 months of age, once your baby is consistently eating a wide variety of iron-rich foods.
Here are some foods that can cause choking for children younger than four years of age.
Hard, round and/or small foods such as, nuts, popcorn, raisins, seeds, smooth and sticky solid foods.
Here are some foods that should not be given to your baby.