Solid Food for Babies

Introducing Solid Foods

The timing involved in the introduction of solids, varies greatly. Solids should not be introduced earlier than 4 - 6 months though, but some children breastfeed exclusively into their second year and thrive.

Some Breastfeeding Facts

baby eating an apple, baby apple
  • Breast milk alone is enough for a growing baby, even a big baby. 
  • Solids will not help a baby sleep longer intervals at night. 
  • With the exception of Vitamin D, babies do not need extra supplementation with vitamins and nutrients when breastfed exclusively. 
  • A baby does not need to start solids in order to learn to chew by six months. A baby can learn to chew at any age. 

Signs that a Baby is Ready to Start Solids

    Not all babies are ready to eat solids at 6 months. Some babies may only show these signs at 8 or 9 months. There is no rush, some babies take in solids only after 1 year and have absolutely no health or growth problems. 
  • The ability to sit for long periods on his/her own without falling over.
  • Baby does not push the foods out of the mouth with his/her tongue. 
  • Baby can grab hold of foods and direct the food to his/her own mouth. 
  • Baby has increased his/her feeding frequency, for longer than a few days. 
  • Baby has started getting teeth. (although this is not always a good indicator as some babies are born with teeth!)
starting solid foods, baby eating

The Risk of Introducing Solids Too Early

  • Diarrhea.
  • The mother becomes fertile much quicker. 
  • Poor neuromotor development. 
  • The baby receives less immune protection. 
  • The mother loses less weight from the pregnancy. 
  • The baby is at an increased risk of developing allergic reactions. 
  • Poorer nutrition. The foods that a baby eats will most likely not be as nutrient and vitamin rich as breast milk. 
  • The baby is at higher risk of ear and gut infections. 

Solid Food for Babies

    It is always best to introduce whole foods into your baby's diet such as steamed vegetables or fruit instead of processed baby foods or canned foods. 
    At 4-6 months a baby can handle lightly mashed fruits and veg, or whole soft pieces of banana, cheese or avocado. The baby should be making some chewing motions when putting these in his/her mouth. The more whole the food is, the more likely the baby is going to stay interested.   

Foods to Avoid when Introducing Solids 

(may cause choking)

  • Dried fruits.
  • Nuts.
  • Whole grapes.
  • Large pieces of sausage.
  • Raw vegetables.
  • Peanut butter.
  • Bread. 

Foods to Avoid that Pose Danger:

  • Honey should be avoided for the first year of a baby’s life.
  • Dried fruits since they are high in sugar. 
  • Deep fried foods are overall bad for a person’s health. 
  • Any form of sugar and artificial sweeteners. 
  • Salt.   

Foods that May Cause Allergic Reactions

food sensitivities, baby eating a strawberry

Recent research suggests that the introduction of "culprit allergy foods" into your baby's diet in small amounts from the age of 4 months can prevent allergic reactions later on. A mother is now encouraged to eat these foods during pregnancy and breastfeeding unless she, herself, is allergic to a specific food. Some culprit foods include dairy products, nuts, fish, eggs, wheat, soy and citrus fruits. Reference for this new information: Allergies - Where are we now? & Early consumption of peanuts in infancy is associated with a low prevalence of peanut allergy.

Easy Weaning Food Ideas

  • Pieces of toasted whole grain bread. 
  • Low sugar breakfast cereal. 
  • Frozen peas.
  • Tofu cubes.
  • Soft cooked beans.
  • Steamed fruits and vegetables. 
  • Ripe, soft fruits.
  • Soft pieces of beef or chicken. 
  • Steel cut oats.
  • Low-fat yogurt.
  • Cubes of cheese. 
  • Canned tuna (drained)

Tips for Starting Solids

  • Breastfeed your baby before offering the food. Breast milk should still be a baby’s primary source of nutrition during the first year of life. 
  • A baby may feel more comfortable eating on the mother's lap. Let your baby sit on your lap and eat with you. 
  • Introduce new foods slowly; introduce only one at a time. This way you can keep an eye, to see if anyone specific food is causing an allergic reaction
  • Never force a baby to eat. 
  • Never leave a baby alone while he/she is eating. 
  • Remember that a baby’s stool will change in texture, color, and odor.

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Baby's Reaction to Eating Solids for the First Time

Tracy Behr, CLD, CBC (CBI)

Reference: Course information through Childbirth International on the physiology of breastfeeding/introduction of solid food for babies.

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