It can be difficult to know when to transition your little one to solid food while still balancing their nutritional needs. With so many conflicting resources available, it can also be challenging to know what advice to take. Below are a few helpful, tips from Alexis Williams, a registered dietitian with Loblaw Companies Limited, to start your little one off on the right foot:
Know the Signs
It is recommended to wait until six months to introduce solid food. You’ll see several signs when your baby is ready, like holding their head up and sitting upright in their high chair or seat, opening their mouth proactively for food when it is offered and turning away when they don’t care for it, closing their lips over a spoon when its offered, keeping food in their mouth, and swallowing.
Take Baby Steps
While it’s exciting to show your baby all of the amazing foods the world has to offer, it’s best to take a slow and steady approach to introducing something new. Always introduce new foods when your baby is happy and hungry to ensure a great first impression. Also, offer single foods first before offering blends of flavours. If your little one doesn’t like something, try it again another day.
Lead by Example
Your baby learns to eat by watching you. While your entire family is eating together, ensure your baby is served the same foods in a form they can eat. From healthy dinner favourites like chicken and sweet potatoes, to sweet treats like juicy peaches, eating the same foods will help your baby learn healthy eating habits with the rest of the family. Lastly, never turn your nose up at a new food in front of your child since they may notice and mimic the behaviour.
Introduce Iron-Rich Foods First
At around six months of age, the iron stores that babies are born with begin to decline and they need iron-rich foods to meet the nutrient needs of their fast growing bodies. Try boiled or well cooked meats and fish, iron-fortified infant cereals, tofu, beans and legumes and cooked egg yolks. To help your little one absorb the iron, serve iron-rich foods with fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C.
Spice Things Up
Plain veggies can get a little boring. You can start introducing extra flavour to your little one’s foods through herbs and spices that are still mild enough for a baby’s palette. While additions like salt add unhealthy sodium to your baby’s diet, fresh or dried herbs and spices will introduce them to flavours in new and interesting ways. Try spicing up sweet potato and chicken dishes with a small pinch of cinnamon for an interesting twist.
At approximately six months, your baby can learn to drink small amounts of water. Water helps ease digestion, reduce tooth decay and prevent dehydration. During meal time, try allowing your baby to use a lidless cup. With a little patience and practice, they’ll be drinking from a cup alone in no time.