By Christa Poirier, Public Health Nurse, Ottawa Public Health and Jason Haug, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Unit, Ottawa Public Health
It’s normal to have questions when your baby is starting solids. In the first six months of your baby’s life, it’s recommended you give your baby breast milk exclusively if possible. You may have many questions about what comes next, such as: when can my baby start on solid foods? What happens if they don’t take to a certain food? Should I be avoiding high-allergen foods?
Your baby is ready to start eating solids when they can sit up in a chair, hold their head up, lean forward, and follow food with their eyes. It is recommended that you continue to breastfeed for up to two years and beyond, even after you start your baby on solids.
As a parent, it is your job to decide what foods to offer your child, when to offer meals and snacks, and where your child will eat. Your child will decide which foods to eat from what is offered to them, and how much to eat.
Introducing solids can be a bit frustrating when baby refuses certain foods. It is important to keep offering those foods a few different times. Give meat (and alternatives) and infant cereal as first solid foods. They may not have expected the taste, texture, consistency. Just keep trying.
“Higher-allergen” foods do not have to be avoided when introducing solids unless advised by your healthcare provider. When any new food is started, watch for signs of an allergic reaction. Higher-allergen foods such as peanuts, fish, wheat, milk products, soy and whole eggs can be given from six months of age. When starting these foods, give only one per day and wait two days before starting another food.
You can learn more about feeding your baby and toddler at ParentinginOttawa.com/FeedingYourBaby
Getting through the ‘food on the floor’ phase
Eating seems like a pretty intuitive process. Food goes into mouth. Food gives the body nutrients. Your baby might not always agree — especially when it comes to the “food goes into mouth, not on the floor” part.
Parents on our “Parenting in Ottawa” Facebook page (Facebook.com/ParentinginOttawa) shared some helpful tips:
• When your baby throws food on the ground, ignore it totally. Praise your baby a lot when they put their food down on their tray instead of throwing it overboard.
• Give your baby one thing at a time or only a small amount. Meal times take a bit longer, but don’t have to be as messy.
• Find ways to minimize the mess. Put a plastic table cloth on the floor and then just shake it off outside when baby is done eating.
Parenting in Ottawa
Are you breastfeeding your baby? Be part of the celebration! Join us in trying to set a record for the most number of moms breastfeeding at one site at Ottawa City Hall on Oct. 3, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Learn more at Facebook.com/ParentinginOttawa