what to feed when: starting solids & progressing through textures

Starting solids is an exciting milestone in your baby’s life, but it can also be confusing, especially when you’re inundated with conflicting information on how and when to do it. What seems to trip parents up the most is timelines and textures… You might ask yourself “should I start out with purees and then gradually progress to lumpier textures”? Or do I do “baby-led weaning” and skip purees all together? The truth is, you can do either or. Or a combination! Your decision should be informed (and this is why I’m writing this blog post), but it should also be based on your comfort level as well as your lifestyle and your baby. Here’s what you need to know to get started:

Ensure feeding is baby-led no matter what: First off, whether you’re serving only finger foods right from the start, or spoon-feeding, or a combination of the two, you want to ensure feeding is “baby-led”. Don’t force or coax food into baby’s mouth, whether via spoon, pouch or fingers—let baby guide it in, and let baby determine how much they eat as well as pace of eating. This is their responsibility. Your baby is responsible for deciding if, how much and at what pace they eat. Your responsibility is serving nutritious and safe foods at times that you decide and where you decide.

Avoid choking hazards always:

  • Hot dogs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Chunks of meat or cheese
  • Whole grapes
  • Hard or sticky candy
  • Popcorn
  • Gobs of peanut butter or other nut/seed butter
  • Raw vegetables or hard/firm raw fruit with or without peel
  • Chewing gum
  • Stringy fruits or vegetables such as pineapple or asparagus

Be aware of which textures are appropriate at which stage:

4-6 months - be cautious!
The new Canadian infant feeding guidelines suggest waiting until around 6 months of age prior to introducing solids, to ensure baby is developmentally ready and to encourage exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months. If your baby is showing all of the signs of being ready to start solids prior to 6 months of age (is at least 4 months of age, sitting up on their own independently, interested in food and reaching out for it, cueing to put food in mouth etc.), you can experiment with simple purees such as Baby Gourmet’s iron-fortified infant cereal, or their unsweetened fruit and/or veggie purees, but we encourage waiting until around that 6 month mark.

6-7 months - let's dive in!
At 6 months old, babies are ready to start solids. It’s important to offer iron-rich foods right at 6 months, because baby’s iron-stores are depleted. Offer iron-rich foods first, and at least twice a day. Make sure that foods are soft enough that they can break apart in baby’s mouth easily (and you can squish it between your tongue and hard palate), and avoid choking hazards (put list when hovered). It’s also safe to introduce common allergens such as natural peanut butter (spread thinly on toast), cooked low-mercury, deboned fish, and cooked egg. Baby can start to drink sips of water via open cup (with help) at 6 months too.  

Foods that are appropriate, nutritious and safe are:

  • Soft, slow-cooked and shredded or pressure cooked meat, poultry in larger pieces for easy grasp
  • Cooked and deboned and soft, low mercury fish, homemade salmon “patties”
  • Cooked ground meat made into soft meatballs or patties
  • Well-cooked eggs (scrambled), or homemade omelet strips
  • Baby Gourmet’s Iron-fortified infant cereal
  • Mashed or pureed beans, lentils, chickpeas
  • Soft fruit such as banana, avocado (tip: use Baby Gourmet’s iron-fortified infant cereal to coat it for better grip!)
  • Steamed and soft cooked or cooked and mashed vegetables like sweet potato, peas, squash
  • Very thinly sliced (the width of baby’s pinkie nail) and peeled and steamed apple, carrot, zucchini
  • Nut or seed butter, spread thinly on whole grain toast strips
  • Thinly sliced or grated cheese
  • Plain and full-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • Whole grains like quinoa, rice, barley, oats
  • Baby Gourmet’s Simple Purees or Creative Combos purees
  • Safe snacking finger foods such as Baby Gourmet’s Finger Foods

8-9 months - more textures and self-feeding: 
Your baby might be getting closer to mastering the “pincer grip” at this stage, and has been exposed to a variety of foods, tastes and textures at this point. Iron is still an important nutrient, so continue to offer iron-rich foods at least twice a day. If you haven’t already, make sure to offer allergenic foods such as nut butters (thinly spread), fish, and eggs regularly. You can test out smaller soft pieces of soft food if baby has mastered the pincer grip, and you can start to teach baby how to use the spoon on his own (he likely won’t be able to master this until he’s around 12 months).  Continue using an open cup for water whenever possible.

Foods that are safe to introduce at this stage:

10-12 months - self-feeding like a pro!
Your baby should be actively participating in family meals and enjoying a wide variety of foods, tastes, and textures. Baby should be quite comfortable with self-feeding finger foods and be mastering the pincer-grip which allows them to pick up smaller pieces of food. Baby should also be on their way to learning how to self-feed with a spoon and/or pouch. It’s encouraged to wait until at least 9 months to introduce whole cow’s milk—preferably closer to 12 months.

Foods that are safe to offer from 10-12 months:

  • Cooked meat, poultry, fish cut into smaller pieces
  • Smaller pieces of cooked vegetable, smaller pieces of soft fruit
  • Mixed meals such as spaghetti, lasagna, soup etc. without added salt
  • Finely chopped dried fruit
  • Cheese cubes
  • Baby Gourmet’s Savoury “Meals”
  • Every food mentioned in previous stages

Introducing your baby to solids – especially the first time around—can be confusing, so hopefully this helps to clarify which foods are appropriate at which stage of starting solids (because this can be confusing!). You might also be interested in learning about how Baby-Led Weaning can be practiced simultaneously with spoon feeding and the 5 most important things to know before starting solids.

Happy feeding!

Registered Dietitian, Blogger, Media Spokesperson
(403) 389-3284
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