Being unsure about how and when to introduce new foods to your baby is common. We’re here to help with even the pickiest of eaters. While skillfully introducing new foods can improve the health of your baby, it isn’t as simple as 1-2-3. Introducing foods takes time, patience and effort.
The World Health Organization recommends that after birth, a baby should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life if the mother is able to do so. If breastfeeding is not an option, iron fortified formula is the next best choice. Around 6 months of age, complementary foods may be introduced in addition to breast milk or formula.
Because eating is an experience that utilizes all of a baby’s senses, the complementary foods should be varied in taste and texture. Preparing foods in different ways will help transition babies from eating pureed food all the way to soft, solid foods.
Babies may be fussy when trying foods for the first time, but don’t despair – it can take several attempts before an infant accepts a new food. Below is a plan for introducing new foods to your baby. Additionally, we’ve created a printable calendar to keep track of the types, textures and frequency of new foods as well as your baby’s reaction to them.
- Make a list of soft fruits and vegetables that you want your baby to try for the month. Avocados, bananas, cooked sweet potatoes and green beans are good examples.
- Decide how to prepare each food. For example, mash the sweet potatoes and dice the avocados in small pieces.
- Decide which days you will have your baby try a food, like scheduling bananas on Monday morning or mashed sweet potatoes on Friday afternoon. We recommend spacing new foods every few days to allow time for preferences and potential food intolerances to be observed.
- When the day arrives, record how your child responded to the food. Did she appear to like the bananas? How much did she eat? Did he refuse to eat the green beans? This will help track when each new food was introduced and how your child reacted to it.
One final thought: Your baby is likely to mimic your eating behaviors, so it’s important to model healthy behaviors as a family. Sit down to eat together and try the foods that you are giving to your baby.
Check out our First Year Feeding Practices video for more info on when and how to safely introduce solid foods.