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Introducing Solids to Infants

Introducing solids to infants can be overwhelming with an abundance of information targeting new mothers. The following are guidelines aimed to getting your babies set up for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Consider waiting until 6 months to start solids;

  • Solid foods are not as nutritious as breast milk or formula which provide 100% of baby’s nutrition until 6 months – and the bulk of nutritional needs through the first year

  • Solid food may be lower in good nutrition and higher in calories – which may lead to obesity

  • Solid foods are harder to swallow

  • Solid foods may increase the risk of health problems such as eczema and allergies

  • Babies don’t need water while exclusively breastfed. When your baby begins solids, offer water occasionally

Some new research suggests the following:

  • Do not give your baby rice cereal due to reports of high levels of arsenic in rice and rice products. Start with oatmeal or barley instead and mix with breastmilk or formula

  • Peanut products; early introduction may prevent the development of an allergy but consult with your pediatrician first

  • Fish; choose options lower in mercury such as Cod, Salmon, and Sole. Speak to your fishmonger about fresh, wild options and ask for the country of origin.

  • Speak to your pediatrician about introducing egg whites, citrus, and all other allergens as research has evolved to suggest starting earlier than previously recommended

Choose organic options

Offer single ingredient foods and wait 3-5 days before introducing another food to assess for any allergies or intolerances (diarrhea, rash, vomiting). Once introduced as a single-food, you may start combining different foods previously tolerated

Important Nutrients to consider

  • Iron; well-cooked and minced meats, mashed egg yolk with breastmilk or formula, very finely minced fish, and well-cooked legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas). If you are making homemade cereals, speak to your pediatrician about introducing iron-rich foods first (store bought cereals are iron fortified)

  • Zinc; whole grains, meats, and beans

  • Vitamin D if breastfed (400 IU)

Start with foods that contain iron (at least twice daily) and Introduce vegetables before fruit

Do not add sugar or salt to foods

Dairy products should be full fat

Start lumpy foods no later than 9 months and encourage progress through a variety of textures. Start including modifications of family meals by 1 year

Foods not to introduce before 1 year of age

  • Honey

  • Cow’s Milk

  • Grapes, Hot Dogs, Popcorn, and other choking hazards

  • Juice

Teaching (and modelling) appropriate eating habits start now

  • Let your baby feed himself and decide how much to eat. Start with offering 1-2 tsp. and work towards 2-3 tbsp. always listening to your baby’s hunger signals

  • No screen time

  • Sit with your baby and enjoy eating together

At roughly 9 months you can start to introduce chopped, ground, or mashed foods

Work up to establishing 3 meals and 2 snacks daily by 12 months with no more than 3 hours elapsing between meals. Get your baby on the family’s eating schedule

Establishing lifelong healthy eating:

  • Variety is key both in taste and texture

  • Homemade vs. Commercial Products; consider a jar of baby foods apples. It always has the same flavor. Consider the selection of apples at the supermarket and how each type you make has its own unique flavor. Exposing your child’s taste buds to various flavors sets them up for accepting new foods as they grow up

  • Establish eating zones both in terms of location and timing. All food should be eaten in the kitchen and seated at the table. Setting expectations from the onset will make this seem like a natural choice.

  • As your child gets older, offer healthy choices. Some broccoli or carrots? This empowers your child to make their own choices

  • Consider keeping junk food (AKA sometimes food) for outside the house

  • Do not shop for food in the toddler aisle of the supermarket. These foods contain plenty of salt and sugar and may skew your child’s taste buds to prefer these options.

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