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Introducing solid food

Early in the 6th or 7th month, your child’s diet begins diversification with the introduction of solid foods. Follow our tips to help him enjoy his new diet.

 

Seven keys to a healthy diet

Here are seven keys to introducing and maintaining a diverse, healthy diet for your child.

1. Introduce solids in stages

Moving to a diet of milk and solids happens in stages. World Health Organization (WHO) recommends to offer your child his first solid food in his 6th month. Do not hesitate to ask your healthcare professional for advice during this new stage of his development. From six months, milk alone is no longer sufficient to meet the dietary needs of your child, and its share of your child’s diet gradually decreases.

To complete his new dietary needs, you can gradually begin to give him rice, cereal and pureed vegetables such as carrots, green beans, spinach, zucchini and leeks, as well as fruit such as stewed apples, pears, bananas and apricots and strained meat such as beef or poultry.

Which food, when?

The first step in deciding if your child is ready for solid foods is watching his overall development. Can he sit with support? Turn his head away to show he is full? These and other signs will help you determine when he may be ready to start eating solids.

With some foods, it is best to wait till your child is older to introduce it into their diet, as they may trigger an allergic reaction. You have to be careful on picking right food for your child.

From 7-9 months on, you can add animal protein in your child’s meals. On the menu might be a spoonful of meat (chicken, turkey, veal or ham), fish (cod, salmon or tuna) or egg (yolk only).

From one year on, he can eat almost everything. He can enjoy new food such as pulses, black beans and cheese.

2. Introduce a new food at a time

To detect a possible allergy, offer your child one new food at a time, then wait a few days before trying another new item. This is the time it takes for an allergic reaction to show up. For example, Monday you might give your child mashed carrots to try, and, on Thursday, pureed spinach.

3. Start with small quantities

Your child will begin to eat everything you eat, but in much smaller portions. The capacity of his stomach is still limited; so do not expect him to eat large quantities yet. You may provide just a small amount at each feed. In the beginning, for example, let him taste one spoonful of puree: that is all he needs.

The same principle goes for meat: at 7-9 months, a child can be satisfied with a teaspoon of meat or fish mixed well. You can then gradually increase the amount.

4. Vary the textures

While starting to introduce your child to solids, offer only smooth textures, mashed or pureed, to enable your child to safely master swallowing rather than sucking. From around seven months of age, you can let him taste all his new foods mashed or pureed. Then, from around 8 to 10 months, he can try small, soft, easy to chew pieces of food.

Try to vary how the food looks when you offer it to your child.

5. Use a child spoon

Your child's gums are fragile, so you need to feed him with a flexible spoon, the right size for his mouth. Avoid using small, stainless steel dessert spoons that could hurt him. If he refuses the spoon, be patient, and try again later.

6. Avoid salt and sugar

There is no need to add salt or sugar to your child's meals, and you should also pay attention to any sugar he might consume, such as avoiding sugary drinks.

7. Listen to your child

Don’t force him to eat solids – instead, follow his lead. If he refuses to taste a vegetable puree, try again tomorrow. Finally, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to consult your healthcare professional.

 

Picky eating

It’s a whole new world of tastes and textures for your child. Refusing certain foods is very normal. With a little patience and persistence, he will learn to enjoy his new diet.

Food refusal

Your child will tell you, without words, that he doesn’t like his spinach puree: grimace, mouth closed, plate thrown on the ground. Don’t worry too much about your child’s lack of desire to try solid food.

So far, he has enjoyed drinking milk and has not questioned that this is where he gets his food. Now he understands that he can make decisions (“I like” or “I don’t like”). This is the beginning of your child learning to say "no”, and by not wanting to eat food, he is expressing a desired autonomy more than a refusal to eat.

Be persistent, offer food at least 8 times before deciding he really doesn’t like it. Offer previously rejected food every few days, in non-emotional way and/or bridge with food he does like.

Food rejection after age two

By age two, many children have similar preferences for food: they may love pasta, rice and potatoes rather than a plate of vegetables. And, if you try something new, you'll often get an instant refusal. This is called "food neophobia". It’s more or less pronounced depending on the child and may improve after school age.

Forming good food habits

If your child does not want to eat, don’t force him, but do not offer anything else if he refuses what you have chosen either. This may be difficult to do the first time, but your child will quickly understand that he has to eat what he’s given or he will get hungry later. Here are some ideas for helping make meal times go more smoothly:

• Be creative. If your child doesn’t eat his carrots, offer him carrots again tomorrow, in a different way. Who could resist a "face" made out of pureed vegetables, with sliced carrot eyes and a green bean mouth?

• Teach your child to verbalize “my tummy is not hungry” – then learn to respect his words. After all, your child should eat when he is hungry, not to please someone else. Take your time, relax and encourage him to do the same by serving meals in a relatively quiet place and without distractions, like television turned off.

Healthy eating after age two

At two years of age, a child will often eat 4 regular meals, and 2 snacks, or mini-meals. Seat your child at the family dining table, in his highchair, next to you. He will love to see you trying lots of new foods and will want to imitate you. Be sure to set a good example for him – fill your own plate with an appropriate portion of healthy foods like vegetables, to help him form good eating habits early in life.