Starting solids can be such an exciting time for your family, and also a big leap for your little babe. It may also be somewhat of an uneasy time as the amount of information and resources can be very overwhelming. When to start solids? What method is the best way to start? What foods should you introduce first? What to do if your child is not loving solids? There are so many different approaches and opinions when it comes to introducing food. I’m here to tell you that it will be okay. You got this! And we are here to help. Enjoy the excitement of this milestone! It is an adventurous and fun stage.
While following guidelines safely, do what works for you and your babe. Not every babe is the same, therefore what works well for one child may not work the best for another. Take things at your own pace. Some babies do really well with purees and need a very slow, gradual change to new textures. Other babes prefer mashed or lumpy textures. Watch how your child responds and follow their cues.
When should you start solids?
The World Health Organization, as well as the Canadian Paediatric Society, both recommend breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of your baby’s life. They both state that from six months on, other foods should complement breastfeeding for up to two years or more. Alternatively, if you are not breastfeeding, a commercially prepared infant formula is safe. At 6months old, solids do not replace breastmilk/formula but rather compliment them. Therefore, you will continue to breastfeed and/or give formula as usual.
Not sure if your baby is ready to start solids? Check out this article on Signs your baby is ready to start solids to find out. “The rationale behind the six-month recommendation has to do with the maturity of your baby’s digestive tract. If you start solid foods before your baby is ready it may lead to digestive tract upset (gas, constipation) and your baby may not be able to absorb the nutrients from the food well. Your baby may also be more susceptible to illnesses if solid food is started too soon.”
How should you start solids?
Yes, it’s true! There is more than one way to introduce solids to your child. There is the traditional method of offering purees and gradually modifying the texture to soft, diced foods. And then there is an alternative approach called Baby Led Weaning. Baby-led weaning is all about letting your baby take charge. You bypass the purees and spoon feeding while offering finger foods in a safe manner. Read more on the benefits of Baby-Led Weaning and how to begin it safely. Both approaches have been shown to be safe, but because choking can happen at any time, I always suggest for parents and caregivers to be confident in infant choking and CPR.
Make sure that your little one isn’t coming to the table tired and starving. It’s best to offer solids after their nap. At first, start with offering solids once a day roughly 60minutes after breastfeeding. I know this may sound like you have to schedule your day around your babe eating but it’s easier when explained. As Mama Coaches we use the MAMA method. When babe wakes you give them Milk- breastfeed or give formula. Allow them to have some time of Activity-what ever is appropriate for your child’s age. Then offer them their Meal. Prior to starting solids, this would have been the second M for Milk-breastmilk or formula but now it will be solids. After they finish with their meal, give them a small amount of time for an activity prior to going down for another nap.
What foods do you start with?
No matter what approach you take to introducing solids, we must always remember to introduce iron-rich foods first. Your baby was born with a supply of iron, but by 6months it is nearly used up and that is why it is so crucially important that you begin with iron-rich foods. Pick one new food. Observe your child for any redness around the mouth, hives, vomiting, diarrhea, increase in gas pain, or crying. If there are no signs of an allergic reaction then move onto a new food and let your child experiment with it. Once they have tried a variety of foods that you know are safe for them, you can mix flavours together. After you have introduced a few other solid foods, offer the common food allergens one at a time while observing for signs of a reaction. Always be sure that you never give your baby honey under the age of one as they are at increased risk for botulism.
- Iron-Rich Foods:
- Well Cooked/Pureed Meats, Poultry, Fish and Eggs, Legumes-beans, lentils, chickpeas
- Iron-fortified Cereals
Begin with one tablespoon at a time and increase the quantity and frequency as your child becomes accustomed to eating.
What if your babe isn’t interested in solids?
Don’t worry Mama! This is completely normal. This developmental milestone is a big leap. Not every babe is quick to eat everything that is put in front of him. Introducing solids at this age is a fun and experimental time in your little one’s life. The transition to solids doesn’t happen overnight and to be honest, is sometimes quite the process. Check out this article “What can I do when my six-month-old isn’t interested in food?” for tips and advice on this topic.
Have fun with things! There are SO many recipes out there. Be adventurous and experiment with different flavours. Here are 5 of our favorite baby food recipes.
Check out our “Baby’s First Solids” Tracker. Write down your baby’s age, food with texture, and comments/reactions of how your baby responded to that food. Put this in their baby book.
We are a team of Registered Nurses across North America who use evidence-informed research, and a HUGE dose of empathy with each family we work with. We are so much more than sleep. Click here to find a Mama Coach in your area.