For the first six months of a baby’s life, they get all of the nutrients they require from their mother’s milk or from infant formula. The exception is vitamin D – breastfed babies need vitamin D supplementation.
A big milestone for many parents is introducing solids into their baby’s diet. It is generally recommended that most babies are ready to eat solid foods around 4-6 months old. I remember being so nervous to start solids foods as a first time mom!
Most physicians recommend introducing solids sometime between 4 to 6 months of age.
The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends starting solid foods only when your baby can:
- Sit upright without support, lean forward and control their neck muscles
- Can pick up food and try to put it in their own mouths
- Hold food in their mouth without pushing it back out with their tongue
- Show interest in food when seeing others eat
- Open their mouth when they see food coming their way
- Can let you know they don’t want food by turning away or leaning back
Many babies meet these criteria sometime between 4 to 6 months of age. Your physician will advise you when it is safe to start solids. Some babies are ready earlier than others, even in twins.
Madi was ready for solid foods around 5 months of age while George was ready around 4 months of age. I started with iron-fortified baby cereal.
Babies first foods should be rich in iron.
By around 6 months of age, a baby’s iron stores begin to deplete. This puts the baby at risk for iron deficiency anemia. This is why it is important to introduce iron-rich foods first.
Some examples of iron-rich foods are baby cereal fortified with iron, meat or meat alternatives like beans or peas.
Wait a day or two between starting new foods.
This way you know which food may be a potential allergen should your baby have a reaction.
This post was co-authored by Stephanie Liu, MD, MSc, CCFP, BHSc and Erin Manchuk, BScPharm, BCGP.