When to Transition my Baby
Begin to transition your child to solid foods when they are 6 months old.1 Some might start sooner or later than 6 months. The following signs are indicators that your baby is ready to start eating solid foods:2,3
- Open mouth to food
- able to grasp objects
- Able to bring hand/fist to mouth
- Able to sit up alone
- Able to hold head up alone
- reaching for parent’s food or cutlery at the table.
What Does Meal Time Look Like?
Environment is important to your child eating well. Parent and family emotions and actions can impact how your child associates with food. With this in mind: 3-5
- It is recommended that your baby eats with their family to help them feel included and recognize meals as a family event.
- Create a safe, fun place for your child to try new foods to increase positive associations with the food.
- Limit distractions such as toys and television to give your child space to focus on eating.
What is Your Relationship to Food?
Food can be seen as a type of medicine. If you eat good food that is normally available in the natural environment it will lead to good health.6 Therefore, you should eat foods found in the natural environment to help your child have good health. This might mean eating in season as a family.
What does Eating in Season Look Like?
There are four seasons and our body is meant to change with the seasons
- Eating in season gives us a holistic diet that allows us to meet the nutritional needs of our body. 6
- check out some of the recipes found on the Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle Facebook page for some ideas for your family. https://www.facebook.com/IDHCHealth
What Kind of Foods Should be Used?
It’s important to offer your baby foods with a variety of textures starting with iron rich foods and then introducing other kinds of food. Your baby needs iron (an important nutrient in the body) because their stores of iron are mostly used up by 6 months.1,2,5 Once your child is able to eat food rich in iron, they can progress to other foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains that do not have high sources of iron.1,4,5 Every child progresses differently, so listen to your child. It is recommended that your child eat what you are eating as a family.4-6 Look at the food you are eating as a family and then change textures depending on your child’s development in eating solids. For example, if you are eating chicken, mince the chicken for your child if they are in the minced stage of eating food.
This chart is meant to guide you through what textures would be most appropriate for your child.3-5 The ages mentioned are suggestions based on age, but some children may progress at different speeds and that is normal. The textures are a guideline for how the food should be prepared based on your child’s progression in their eating.
How Often Should My Baby Eat?
Generally start with one meal a day and that might only be a tablespoon or two of food.4,5 This will gradually increase as your baby starts to become used to solid foods. Eventually you can reach 3 meals a day with 2-3 snacks. It’s important to continue to breastfeed or bottle feed up until the 2 year mark or longer. 4,5
It is also important to let your baby guide the feeding process. Let them decide their food intake by using self-feeding and watching their cues, but make sure to offer them food options throughout the day.4,5
The following chart shows signs of hunger and fullness in babies. 4,5
|Your baby is hungry if they:||Your baby is full if they:|
|– Smack lips
– Lean forward towards food
– Open mouth when offered food
– Put their fingers in their mouth
– Cry or fuss
|– They turn their head away from food
– Close their mouth when offered food
– Cry or fuss after eating some food
-Cover their mouth with their hand
The following chart shows estimated meals per day in relation to age but this can differ between children as some progress faster or slower through the transition to solid foods. 5
Gagging vs Choking
- What is gagging?
- Body’s way of protecting against choking
- Baby may cough, spit, vomit or make noise
- What is choking?
- Baby’s airway is completely blocked
- Baby loses air and may turn blue
- Baby makes no sounds of breathing
Gagging is a normal part of children exploring food. A baby’s gag reflex is very sensitive, resulting in gagging being more common at a younger age. It might happen multiple times before they get used to eating the food and learn how to eat it. If your child gags on a food, it does not mean they can not eat that food.3,4 You can try feeding it to them again at a different meal.
Allergies Caused By Food
Some people might have an allergic reaction to certain foods. This is why it is important to introduce one new food at a time in order to more easily recognize if your child has an allergic reaction to that food. 1,4 You can offer new foods with more familiar foods. 4
Common Food Allergens include:
- Tree nuts
- Fish and shellfish
- Sesame seed
Some babies have mild reactions to a food while others might have a more severe reaction.
- Signs of Allergic reactions: 1,4,5
- Rash or hives, swelling, redness
- Stomach pain
- Vomiting (less common)
- Diarrhea (less common)
- Breathing problems
- Stuffy or runny nose with itchy watery eyes
- Signs of severe reactions:1,5
- Swelling of the mouth, tongue or throat
- Spreading hives
- Difficulty breathing, repetitive coughing or wheezing
- Difficulty swallowing, hoarse voice, crying
- Pale or blue colour of the face or lips
- Faintness, weakness or passing out
If your child shows signs of a reaction, call the clinic to speak with your healthcare provider. If your child shows signs of a severe reaction, seek immediate medical care.
Foods Not to Eat
Some foods can pose a risk to your child and should not be fed to your child until they reach a certain age.
Examples of food not to give your baby: 1,5
- Some types of milk
- Candies and chocolate
- Soft drinks, sport drinks, slushy type drinks
- Tea, coffee
- salt, pickles, olives
- Food sweetened with sugar substitutes
- Snack foods like potato chips, pretzels, french fries
- Cakes, cookies, marshmallows, jello
- Salad dressing, mayonnaise, ketchup
- Processed meats
Honey and unpasteurized (raw) dairy products can include certain bacteria that can be harmful to your baby when eaten before 12 months of age. Honey can be tried after 12 months and cow’s milk can be started after 9-12 months. 1,4,5
Foods high in salt or sugar should be avoided. When preparing food for your family, remove your baby’s portion before adding salt or high amounts of sugar.
TIPS for Picky Eaters2
- Try, try, try again: offer foods multiple times as your child may not like a food until the 10th time you feed it to them
- Little me: try a piece of the food to show your baby that you also like it
- Baby picks: show your baby different foods and let them pick what they would like to eat
- Make it fun: be silly when eating with your baby to make them more engaged in the activity, for example: make funny faces!
Tips for food preparation
- Cutting food into wedges makes it easier for your baby to hold and participate in self-feeding
- Don’t put food in a bottle
Preparing Cooked Meat
It is important for meat to be well cooked before feeding it to your child.
- Remove bones from meat and put it into a blender or food processor
- Add a little liquid and blend.
- Longer times will make the meat more pureed while shorter blending will allow it to be of more minced or chopped texture.
Preparing Fruits and Veggies
- Wash and remove seeds/pits. Might need to remove the skin for the first few months.
- Fruits and vegetables should be grated, cut, or mashed during the first few months.
For mashed or pureed
- Place fruit and/or veggies in a pot of water and bring to boil
- Turn heat to low and let the water simmer until the fruit or veggies are soft.
- The soft fruit or veggies will be easier to mash or puree with a fork, spoon or masher.
Additional Information and Resources
- Research based reliable material from registered dietician
- More about baby led weaning and about using a mix of both and the benefits
- Transition Your Child to Solid Foods flyer
- Healthy Child Manitoba. 2017. Feeding Your Baby 6 months to 1 year.Request:
- Cichero, J. A. Y. (2016). Introducing solid foods using baby-led weaning vs. spoon-feeding: A focus on oral development, nutrient intake and quality of research to bring balance to the debate. Nutrition Bulletin. 41(1) pp: 72-77. https://doi-org.proxy.queensu.ca/10.1111/nbu.12191
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Foods and Drinks for 6 to 24 month olds. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/when-to-introduce-solid-foods.html
- KFL&A Public Health. Healthy Eating: Babies 0-9 months. https://www.kflaph.ca/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating–babies–0-to-12-months-.aspx
- First Nations Health Authority. 2019. A Guide to Your Baby’s First Foods. https://www.fnha.ca/WellnessSite/WellnessDocuments/FNHA-A-Guide-to-Your-Babys-First-Foods.pdf
- Indigenous Diabetes Health Circles. Pathways to Diabetes Prevention and Food Care. [powerpoint]