Written by: Sarah McEwen
Originally published: August 26, 2019
How many times did you make fun of your parents for having the same topics in their conversation over and over? Let me guess, the weather and how fast life goes by? Yikes, I hate to admit it, but now I do the same! The weather—because it affects our daily actions; how long our commute will take; whether we need to water the flowers; shovel the driveway, or more importantly, what clothes do I need to put on my little one(s)? But life does go by fast…and with babies, there can be a new milestone every day! So, how are we supposed to know when they are all of a sudden ready to eat solids? And why would we want to give them solids when everyone talks so much about breastfeeding as the gold standard for health and nutrition?
Rest assured—every baby is different; therefore the timing varies, but thankfully, there has been a lot of research to help guide us when it comes to complementary feedings. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months.1 If breastfeeding is not possible during this time, it is recommended to provide infant formula.* It’s important to note there is some flexibility around this—some infants might be a little bit younger when they are ready, while some might be a little bit older (again, everyone is different).
How will you know when your baby is ready?
Here are some developmental signs to look for with your baby (around 6-months-old), as summarized by Marks (2015), Infant and toddler nutrition, Vol 44, No. 12, pp 886-889.2
- Good head and neck control
- Ability to sit upright when supported
- Being interested in food eaten by others
- Wanting to put things in their mouth
- Appearance of increased appetite – for example, hungry after feeds or demanding more frequent feeds
Tidbit for Your Tiny One
It’s kind of interesting right around the time infants show their readiness to try out new foods, their iron stores start depleting! It seems as though Mother Nature truly works her charm during this time, as there is a risk of iron deficiency from about six to twelve months of age due to the increased growth rate.3 Although there isn’t a guide for what foods to start feeding your baby, it is no wonder many experts/parents start with iron-rich foods, such as iron-fortified cereals, meat, and meat alternatives.
So what do I do next?
Okay, so let’s say your baby is around 6-months-old and is showing all the signs of being ready to try out solids. What is the best course of action? Remember breastfeeding/formula will be the main source of your baby’s nutrients during this time, but offering iron-rich complementary foods a couple of times a day is a wonderful start to the world of solids. Following that, your baby may enjoy a whole array of new foods (fruits, veggies, legumes, fish)—provided in the recommended consistency for their developmental stage. Keep in mind to introduce one new food approximately every three days, while watching for any reaction and ensure a nice variety for your little one.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind:
- Infants will show signs of readiness for new foods (at around 6-months-old)
- Iron stores start to deplete during this time due to an increased growth rate
- Ensure foods are provided in an appropriate texture for this developmental stage
- Gradually increase the foods introduced to your little one to ensure variety
The following recipe poem is an excerpt from our first book “Recipes for Growing Me ~6 months”:
I is for…Iron
Minced meats or mashed beans
Peas and lentils are some
With so many options
This should be fun
Infant cereal can be
A popular first choice
Parents like it because
It is soft and moist
But no matter where my
Source of iron may come from
Ensuring that I have it
Is a wonderful outcome
We hope we’ve contributed something beneficial to your baby’s diet, and remember…don’t hog the blog! Share with new moms today!
Have a bloomin’ day,
Sarah & Karen
- Government of Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/canada-food-guide/resources/infant-feeding/nutrition-healthy-term-infants-recommendations-birth-six-months/6-24-months.html
- Marks (2015), Infant and toddler nutrition, Vol 44, No. 12, p. 886-889
- World Health Organization (WHO). https://www.who.int
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