Starting Baby Feeding (Questions and Answers)
At what age can you start offering solid foods or purees?
Around the age of 6 months. Some will start earlier and others later. Consult your healthcare professional to find out if your infant is ready to begin this adventure.
Signs baby is ready to eat
He is able to take food and put it in his mouth;
When he is full, he turns his head or pushes to food to let you know;
Breast milk or formula are insufficient to fill it;
He can hold his head and can control it.
When he sits, he is able to lean forward in control (1,2).
Can we start with 3 meals a day?
Yes. We can also start slowly with 1-2 meals per day. It is important that he eats with his family as often as possible. The child may try to imitate you or others.
With what food should we start with?
Offer a minimum of 2 iron-rich foods per day.
Sources of iron: fortified baby cereals, meats, tofu, lentils, beans, eggs, edamame, etc.
It is important to try to offer a wide variety of foods, flavors, temperatures and textures.
Age-appropriate first food ideas: https://solidstarts.com/foods/
See question on allergies below.
What foods should we avoid?
We must avoid offering sweet foods (added sugars: sucrose, glucose, fructose, etc. & sugar substitutes: aspartame, sucralose, etc.), salty foods or ultra-processed foods (example: chocolate milk, bear paws, fruit juices), etc. as well as certain fats and oils (shortening, hydrogenated oils, etc.).
At the beginning of the introduction of food, avoid sticky foods, too hard foods(Examples: peanut butter, unless put in a very thin layer and raw vegetables). Certain foods should be avoided since they are a risk for choking: https://www.inspq.qc.ca/mieux-vivre/alimentation/foods/risques-d-etouffement-surveiller-up-4-ans
How many foods to offer?
You can offer as many different foods as you want. It is important to expose babies to a wide variety of flavors, textures, temperatures and mixtures. In addition, when introducing foods, it is important to pay attention to top allergens (see below).
There are 10 most common food allergens in Canada and it is important to expose your baby over 6 months to these. The new recommendations of the Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) in 2019 are to expose your child to allergens early and repeatedly (about 2-3 times a week) in order to reduce the risk of your child developing food allergies. When introducing them, you have to wait about 3 days before introducing a new allergen (3).
For more details, listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlXmgbuvp0
The top 10 food allergens:
Seafood (crustaceans, molluscs)
Wheat and triticale
How to introduce priority allergens: https://fondationolo.ca/blogue/alimentation/comment-introduce-les-foods-allergens/
Can you offer yogurt to your baby?
Yes, offer high-fat plain yogurt (4-10% milk fat).
Why can we give yogurt and cheese at 6 months and not milk?
In Canada, it is recommended to wait until the baby is 9 months old before offering cow's milk. Some will be even more cautious, waiting up to 1 year before offering cow's milk, which is the case for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The baby must have a balanced diet and needs to meet his iron needs before starting to drink cow's milk. Before 9 months of age, the only liquids offered should be breast milk, baby formula and water.
We must wait before offering cow's milk since it is not as nutritious as breastfeeding and baby formula from a nutritional point of view. Additionally, if offered in excess or used as a replacement for breast milk or formula, it can lead to serious nutrient deficiencies, gastrointestinal problems (eg irritating one's gut, causing bleeding resulting in loss of iron (4)), kidney overload (5), and can lead to malnutrition. Cow's milk is too high in protein for infants. In very small quantities, cow's milk can be offered in recipes or baked goods (4).
Yogurt and cheese can be offered from 6 months of age since they are easier to digest. It is then possible to offer these products if the child does not have an allergy to cow's milk proteins (6). The best choices for yogurts are very high in fat with no added sugar. For cheeses, you can opt for those that are low in salt.
When can you give water to your baby?
From the age of 6 months, when he starts solid foods, we can offer him a little bit of water (7).
Is it normal for my baby to refuse several foods?
Yes, it is normal. Do not force him to eat. Sometimes it takes nearly 20 exposures to a food before he accepts it (8). Try offering the food in different shapes, textures and with foods he already likes.
Baby lunch ideas (important to adapt the textures!)
Scrambled egg + cooked vegetables + toasted whole grain bread
Toasted whole grain bread with a thin layer of nut butter mixed with egg
Egg + toasted whole grain bread + fruit
Iron-fortified baby cereal + melted peanut butter + fruit
Avocado + boiled egg + brown rice
Scrambled tofu with vegetables (like scrambled eggs) + sweet potato mash
Toasted whole grain bread + mashed legumes + 1 fruit
For more answers to your questions and for personalized nutrition support, contact me.
Until next time,
Karine Drouin, RD, Registered dietitian
1: Fondation OLO. (Août 2017). Bébé est prêt à manger : mode d’emploi. Retrouvé le 17 mars 2023 au https://fondationolo.ca/blogue/alimentation/bebe-est-pret-a-manger/
2: Naître et grandir. (Novembre 2022). L'introduction aux aliments complémentaires
Retrouvé le 17 mars 2023 au https://naitreetgrandir.com/fr/etape/0_12_mois/alimentation/fiche.aspx?doc=naitre-grandir-bebe-introduction-aliment-solide-complementaire
3: Fondation OLO. (Octobre 2019).Comment introduire les aliments allergènes? Retrouvé le 14 mars 2023 au https://fondationolo.ca/blogue/alimentation/comment-introduire-les-aliments-allergenes/
4: Naître et grandir. (Novembre, 2018). Les enfants et le lait. Retrouvé le 15 mars 2023 au https://naitreetgrandir.com/fr/etape/1_3_ans/alimentation/fiche.aspx?doc=bg-naitre-grandir-enfant-lait
5: INSPQ. (n.d.). Les autres laits. Retrouvé le 17 mars 2023 au https://mobile.inspq.qc.ca/mieux-vivre/alimentation/lait/autres-laits
6: Scott, C. (n.d.). When to Introduce Yogurt to Baby. Retrouvé le 17 mars 2023 au