Starting healthy habits for life: 6-12 months

My niece Lily gets her first taste of solid food at 6 months of age

My niece Lily gets her first taste of solid food at 6 months of age

Long before school, your child needs healthy foods to grow and to develop properly. Right from when they are babies, how children eat will help build the foundation for healthy eating habits for life.

Healthy eating is critical to good health. Children and adults who eat healthy reap the benefits of healthy living and have less chance of developing certain diseases.

When it’s time to introduce solid foods for your baby, you will probably have many questions.  Remember first and foremost that there is no need to rush solid foods. As discussed in the previous post, Top 5 reasons for breastfeeding, breast feeding is encouraged for as long as possible and is recommended as a child’s exclusive food source for the first six months.

The two main questions I get from moms are “How do I know if my baby is ready?” and “What should I feed my baby when they are ready?”

How can you tell if your baby is ready for solid foods? Look for these signs:

  • Can sit up with very little help
  • Can hold her head up
  • Opens her mouth when food is offered
  • Is able to take food from a spoon and swallow it
  • Can turn her head to refuse food
  • Is six months old

What should I offer?

  • A variety of foods so your child can learn to enjoy many different tastes. Your baby may even like foods you don’t.
  • Plain vegetables, fruits and meats without added salt or sugar.
  • Serve foods separately (for example, don’t stir meat and vegetables together) so your child can learn to like different flavors and textures. Do not give your baby store-bought baby food dinners which combine different foods.
  • Foods without added sugar. Babies do not need custards and desserts.
  • Plain foods without sauces or gravies. Your child should be able to taste the food and does not need sauces or gravies.

Another local blogger, Felicie Young,  wrote a great post for Baby Friendly Newfoundland and Labrador about her experiences called Starting solids or the truth about how lazy I am, which is definitely worth reading.

For more information, check out this helpful publication from Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Health Feeding your Baby: 6-12 months. As always, if you have specific questions, make sure you connect with your health care provider.

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

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