The First Bites of Solid Food
Introduction of new foods is a very exciting time for both parent and baby. Complementary feeding is not something to be looked at as a substitute for breastfeeding but rather a supplementary introduction to some new flavours and textures that will begin to expand the child’s palate and also enrich their diet. The rules around the introduction of solids have been under extensive research and while some children can start some cereals as early as 4 months of age, many paediatricians will start suggesting solid food introduction with healthy term infants at 6 months of age. (MD, 2017).
Where do I start?
Always consult your family physician for advice about your specific situation and ensure your child is first developmentally able and showing signs of readiness for the complementary feeding journey.
Signs are as follows:
- The child has oral motor coordination: Able to open and close jaw (makes chewing/sucking movements with the mouth)
- The child is showing interest in what you are eating: Grabbing at or looking at the plate of food during family mealtimes, interested in exploring (touching or tasting) solid food being eaten by others
- The child is able to hold their head up and sit up on their own. Important note: There are lots of reclining and back adjustable high chairs on the market to support complementary feeding at the 4–9-month mark
Where do I begin?
Most paediatricians will recommend rice cereal as the first solid. Pureed fruits and starches can be introduced slowly during this time. You can gauge how comfortable you feel and how well it works for your own family. Do not be afraid of introducing fruits before vegetables for fear of having your child predisposed to sweet tastes. Breastmilk is more on the sweeter side and therefore explains why some children tend to prefer the sweeter fruits and vegetables initially. Do ensure lumpy textures are not introduced before 9 months or as indicated by your family physician.
Family-style dining and infant inclusion
It is very beneficial to have your infant involved in the family mealtimes even if their feeding times do not align with the rest of your families’ schedule. Having them present at the table sparks the curiosity around the foods eaten, introduces the child to your cultural foods and family traditions around family gathering around food, and in turn and provides more opportunity for your child to initiate the first signs of interest in a more overt capacity. Though they may not consume a significant amount of food, meal times provide exposure to tastes, colours and textures. (PAHO, 2003)
While research is ongoing and this concept of solid food introduction is evidence-informed, this dialogue is worth initiating with your paediatrician to be able to track the readiness milestone together as a team and strategize the progression of the same at the pace that feels most comfortable for your family.
We have launched our First Bites Program in Boston with much success! The program introduces infants aged 6 months or older to homemade, wholesome foods that ensure their first experience with table foods will be both nutritional and flavourful.
Speaking of flavours, indulging your baby with a combination of whole foods, herbs and spices will help them grow into new foods they explore in their toddler years. With your help and patience, your baby will become a well-rounded and adventurous eater!
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @kidcochildcare and on Instagram @cheflisaruscica!
Chef Lisa Ruscica
Chief Food Ambassador
MD, J. N. (2017, January 30). Nutrition for healthy term infants, six to 24 months: An overview. Retrieved August 19, 2019, from Canadian Paediatric Society: https://www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/nutrition-healthy-term-infants-6-to-24-months
PAHO. (2003, August 19). Guiding principles for complementary feeding of the breastfed child. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/guiding_principles_compfeeding_breastfed.pdf