Introducing Solid Foods to your Baby

In April 2014, Health Canada, Dieticians of Canada, the Canadian Pediatric Society, and the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada together released updated guidelines for feeding infants aged 6-24 months.

Below is a summary of the key points regarding introducing solids to your baby. You will find new recommendations in bold.

  • The best time to introduce solids may be a few weeks before or after 6 months, based on the readiness of your baby and recommendations from you health care provider.
  • Breastfeeding (or formula feeding) is the primary source of calories and nutrition for babies, so don't stop!
  • Daily Vitamin D supplement (400IU) is recommended for infants and young children who are breastfed ONLY.
  • Introduction of solid food at around 6 months of age (or 6 month corrected age*) is recommended.
  • The first foods introduced to your baby should be iron rich foods; single-grain iron fortified infant cereal (oatmeal, rice, or barley) and well-cooked, pureed, minced, mashed, or shredded meat or poultry, low-mercury fish, legumes (beans, lentils, and peas), tofu, or eggs. (NOTE: If your baby was born prematurely, speak to your doctor as they may need an iron supplement longer) After iron rich foods are introduced and your baby is eating them on a regular and daily basis, you can then introduce fruit, vegetables, grain products and dairy products (with the exception of milk)
  • There is no recommended order for introducing foods after iron rich foods are introduced.
  • Offer one new food at a time.
  • Wait 3-5 days between offering new foods.
  • Foods can be introduced using a variety of soft textures. *Past advice was to start your baby on pureed food, however, at 6 months of age, babies are able to handle a variety of textures.
  • Potentially allergenic foods should be part of the first foods offered to babies; this includes eggs, milk, peanuts, seafood, sesame, soy, tree nuts, and wheat. *Contrary to past advice, in order to decrease the likelihood that your baby will develop and allergy, introduce the above foods early (as recommended) and serve them often.
    This applies to all babies, including those with a family history of allergies.
    If you have a strong family history of food allergies, talk to your health care provider and introducing potentially allergenic foods in a safe manner.

There are only 2 exceptions to the "try everything" approach:

  • MILK: homogenized milk can be introduced to breast or formula fed babies from 9-12 months.
  • HONEY: avoid honey and all products made with honey until at least one year of age due to risk of botulism.

Toss the sippy cup!

  • The use of sippy cups is no longer recommended.
  • The use of regular "open" cups (at 6+ months) is now the gold standard.
  • The reasoning is that "open" cups support the developments of feeding skills.

*corrected age (used for premature babies) = actual age in weeks minus weeks premature.

 

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