Breast milk is the only food your baby will need until they are about 6 months old. It should keep being offered until the baby is 2 years old or older, but at around 6 months it’s time to start adding new foods. Babies are ready for solids when they:
• Are curious about the food you’re eating
• Can sit and hold their head up by themselves
• Open their mouths to take food from a spoon
• Turn their head away to show they don’t want food
• Closes his lips over the spoon
• Keeps food in his mouth and swallows instead of pushing it out.
Start a new food when your baby is happy and hungry! If your baby does not swallow the food, just wait a few days and try again. Sometimes it takes up to 20 tries before he likes it.
Your baby’s first foods should be rich in iron because the iron stores they were born with are now running low.
Iron helps a baby grow and be healthy and a baby without enough iron may have a poor appetite, develop slowly, get sick more often, and be tired, weak, and cranky. Start with one spoonful of a single iron rich food and try to offer these foods 2-3 times each day.
Some healthy foods to try are:
• Well-cooked finely minced or shredded meat, poultry or fish
• Mashed cooked egg, lentils or cooked tofu
• Single grain iron-fortified infant cereal
Learn more about why iron is very important for health development. Here is a list of iron rich foods to try.
It is also important to introduce a variety of textures from other food groups starting at 6 months. Try to offer a variety of food from Canada’s Food Guide. Food does not need to be pureed. Simply mushing it with a fork is good enough. If you choose to start with pureed baby food, move on to well mashed food within a few weeks of starting solids.You should also offer a variety of finger foods (link to finger food page) as a part of first solid foods.
Fish is a very good source of protein, iron and lots of other nutrients, but some fish have higher levels of mercury which might be harmful to the brain. Infants 6-12 months should only have ½ serving ( 40 grams or 1 ¼ ounces) per month. Children over the age of one can have 1 serving (75 grams) per month. Fish that is high in mercury are fresh or frozen tuna, shark, marlin, swordfish, escolar and orange roughy. Here are guidelines for eating fish with higher mercury levels.
By nine months of age, offer your baby the same foods as the family is eating. Small amounts of whole milk may be offered once your baby is 9-12 months old and is eating a variety of iron rich foods.