Find out how to tell if your infant is ready for solid food and how to start.
Starting Solid Foods
The Canadian Paediatric Society, Health Canada and the Dietitians of Canada recommend starting solids when your baby is around 6 months old. However, breast milk or infant formula is still an intrinsic part of his diet to match his increasing nutritional needs. It is recommended that mothers continue to breastfeed or formula feed their children in order to provide the constant nutrition required to nourish their sound development.
Your baby is ready for solid foods when she can:
- Hold her head up
- Sit in a high chair, alone or with support
- Follow food with her eyes.
- Open her mouth wide when she sees food coming.
- Doesn’t push spoon-fed food out of her mouth.
- Closes her lips over the spoon.
If you start feeding your baby too early:
- Her digestion will not be ready for solid foods.
- She cannot swallow food from a spoon, which can pose a choking risk.
- She may drink less breast milk or formula.
If you start your baby on solid foods too late, she may:
- Not get all the nutrients he needs.
- Have difficulty learning to accept and try new foods and textures.
- Have difficulty in chewing foods.
Starting solid foods early does not help your baby sleep through the night. Your baby will sleep through the night when they are developmentally ready. Your baby does not need teeth to start eating solids.
Tips on how to start:
- Always offer solid food after breastfeeding or formula feeding. Most babies cannot get everything they need from breast milk or formula alone. Though you can continue to breastfeed until your baby is 2 years and beyond, at 6 months you'll start to introduce your baby to other foods. Think of solids not only as nutrition, but an opportunity for your little one to experience new textures and flavours while practicing the oral motor skills necessary for spoon feeding
- Sit him in a high chair. Make sure you use the seat belt and never leave him alone while eating.
- Use a small spoon and start with a small amount.
- Put some food on your baby’s lips. Put food in his mouth only if he opens it.
- If your baby does not swallow the food, he may not be ready for solid food yet. Wait a few days and try again.
- Gradually give your baby more food. For example, start with once per day, in the morning and progress to twice per day when your baby accepts food well.
- Let your baby guide you. Your baby will tell you he has had enough to eat when he turns his head away or keeps his mouth shut.
- Keep mealtimes pleasant and never force your baby to eat.