How to Introduce Solid Foods to Your 6 Month Old
There are no hard and fast rules about the order in which to introduce solid foods. Start with a vegetable such as avocado, which is easy to digest and full of nutrients like vitamin C, a range of minerals and brain-building omega-3 fatty acids.
Avoid giving your baby whole nuts, popcorn or larger pieces of raw vegetables as these may cause choking. Offer water as a drink and not fruit juice or soft drinks as these contain too much sugar.
Vegetables and fruits
Your baby’s breastmilk still supplies all the nutrition they need for now, but as their appetite grows, you will want to start introducing veggies and fruits that add nutrients, flavour and texture. Cooked, mashed or pureed vegetables and fruits provide vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Sweet potatoes and yams are a great choice as your baby’s first veggies because they are naturally sweet. They also provide plenty of vitamin A, which supports immune and vision function. Broccoli is a super food for babies and toddlers, with lots of cancer-fighting sulforaphane and iron, a mineral that supports healthy blood cells.
Peas are another good choice — they are high in protein and fibre and easy to chew for babies who have not yet developed their pincer grasp. Be sure to steam or roast them, as raw peas can be choking hazards for infants and toddlers.
Meat and poultry
Meat and poultry provide protein, as well as certain vitamins and minerals like iron. Start with chicken, which is easy for babies to chew and has a mild taste. Cook it until it is very tender and juicy. This will help your baby develop their gums and chewing skills. Avoid serving medium-rare meat, as it’s difficult for infants to chew and may contain harmful bacteria. It’s also best to avoid processed meats like ham, bacon and deli lunch meats as they are often high in salt, nitrates and preservatives.
As your baby gets older, you can offer them shredded or finely chopped chicken, pork and fish. Ensure all foods are fully cooked, and remove any bones. Never offer your baby a whole piece of meat until they are comfortable with tearing and biting their food, or have teeth (around 8 to 9 months). Choking is a serious risk for infants. Foods that can choke babies include ribs, whole pieces of fruit and vegetables, raw peanuts and popcorn.
Cereals and mashed cooked grains
At this point, solid foods may begin to replace breast milk or formula for part of your baby’s diet. This will help your infant learn to chew, taste new food flavors and texture, and build muscle strength.
Start with rice cereal, made with either white or brown rice, and mash it into a very smooth texture. You can also try oats, barley or millet cereals – just make sure they are not overly processed as this will remove many nutrients.
Fruits are also a good first food for babies. Make sure that they are very ripe and have been washed well, especially any that are very juicy. Avoid offering whole fruits until your baby is older, as they are a choking hazard. Dollops of nut or seed butters are okay, but do not offer any in larger pieces as they could get stuck in your baby’s throat. Avoid giving your baby whole nuts, seeds and popcorn as these are also a choking hazard.
Sprouts are germinated seeds of vegetables and grains, which are nutritious. They are a source of proteins, dietary fibre and vitamins like K, A and C. They also help improve the immune system. They are recommended for pregnant women, babies and people with weaker immune systems.
By this age, your baby is probably ready to try out finger foods. You can start by introducing them to small pieces of O-shaped toasted oat cereal, banana slices and well-cooked pasta cut into bite-size pieces. Make sure to only give them food that is safe for them to eat, and never anything that could choke them.
This tasty fish and butternut squash puree is a good first introduction to fish and provides your baby with an excellent source of protein, potassium and iron. The pear is an added bonus as it helps to reduce the acidity in the dish and is a great fruit for babies to begin with because it doesn’t cause many allergies.