What Foods do I give my Baby First?

Updated April 24th, 2019

Whether you are feeding your baby store bought baby food, homemade or a combination, you introduce each food the same way.

  • Start with iron-rich foods.
  • Introduce one food at a time and offer it for 2 days before trying a new food. That way, if your baby develops an allergic reaction, you’ll have a better idea of what food might have caused it. For information on food allergies click here.
  • Start with 1-2 teaspoons of food and gradually offer more according to your baby’s appetite. Let your baby decide how much to eat.
  • It can take 15-20 tries of a new food before your baby learns to like it. Offer new foods many times.
  • Your baby’s first food should be pureed. After a few weeks, gradually change the texture. See our page on baby food textures for more information.
  • Babies don’t need extra salt, sugar or other sweeteners.
  • Try to avoid highly processed food that are high is sugar and or salt.
Safety tips:
  • Before feeding your baby check the temperature of food to prevent burns.
    • If you have warmed it in the microwave- stir it well to prevent hot spots.
  • As your baby learns to eat they sometime gag and can be at risk for choking. See our page on- is my baby gaging or choking 
    • The tables below have tips for preparing safe food for baby. You can also see our page on food textures.
  • Do not give your baby honey in any form (raw, pasteurized or cooked in food) until after his first birthday. Honey may cause botulism, a type of food poisoning that can make your baby very sick. His immune system is not developed enough to fight it until after 12 months.

This table is an example of how to incorporate starting solids with breastfeeding or formula feeding.

At 6 months, your baby should start with iron-rich foods because her iron level is becoming low. Iron is important for healthy red blood cells and brain development.

What foods have iron?

Type of Food Ideas for Preparing Health and Food Safety Tips
MeatsChicken, turkey,
beef, pork, lamb, veal, wild meat
 

 

  • Remove skin and bones from the meat.
  • Boil, microwave or steam the meat to cook it.
  • Use the cooking water, breast milk or formula to blend the meat to the right texture for your baby.

Cook all meats to their safe internal temperature.

Processed meats are high in salt and low in nutrition. Try to avoid giving them to your baby. These include:

  • ham,
  • bacon
  • deli meat (e.g. salami, bologna).
  • wieners and sausages are a choking hazard. If you are giving wieners or sausages prepare them safely by cutting them into 4 sections lengthwise and then into bite-sized pieces. This video shows you how.
Plant-based foods tofu, beans, lentils, chick peas, split peas, nuts, seeds
  • Use breast milk or formula to blend or mash beans, lentils or peas to the right texture for your baby.
  • If your plant-based food are:
    • dried- cook according to the instructions.
    • Canned are already cooked – drain and rinse well.
Eggsyolks and whites
  • Cook eggs until the yolk is firm.
  • Offer your baby mashed hard-boiled eggs or scrambled eggs

 

  • Do not feed your baby undercooked (runny) eggs or foods that have raw or under-cooked eggs (such as: raw cookie dough, cake batter)
  • Cook eggs to their safe internal temperature.
Iron-fortified infant cereal
  • Start with a single-grain cereal such as rice, barley or oatmeal.
  • Then offer mixed grain cereal.
  • Prepare by following the directions on the package.
  • Avoid adult cereals as they do not have as much iron as   iron-fortified infant cereals.

 

Fishwithout bones
  • Choose boneless fish such as white fish, salmon and light canned tuna.
  • Remove skin and bones before cooking. Fresh fish can be poached, broiled or baked.
  • To puree fish use the water that fish was cooked in, breastmilk or infant formula. Blend until you have the right texture for your baby.

 

Mercury can affect your baby’s developing brain. Limit eating fish high in mercury to once a month. These include:

  • canned “white” albacore tuna,
  • orange roughy
  • escolar
  • marlin
  • fresh or frozen tuna steak
  • swordfish
  • shark

 

Once your baby is enjoying a variety of iron-rich foods, she is ready to try other foods such as vegetables, fruit, grains and milk products.

  Vegetables & Fruit

Type of Food Ideas for Preparing Food Health and Food Safety Tips

Vegetables

Such as broccoli, potatoes, squash, peas, carrots

Vegetables can be:

  • fresh
  • frozen
  • canned

To prepare vegetables:

  • Fresh vegetable- wash, peel, remove any pits or seeds, and cut into small pieces.
  • Cook vegetables until soft in water on the stove or in the microwave.
  • To puree vegetables use the cooking water, breastmilk or infant formula. Blend until you have the right texture for your baby.
  • For a lumpier texture vegetables can be mashed
About canned vegetables:

  • choose unsalted products or
  • rinse vegetables to remove some of the salt.

 

Fruits

Such as bananas, pears, peaches, plums, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, kiwi

 

Fruit can be

  • fresh
  • frozen
  • canned (choose unsweetened)
  • cooked (such as apple sauce)

Prepare fruit:

  • Wash, peel, remove any pits or seeds.
  • Soft fruit can be mashed with a fork.
  • Cut into bite-sized pieces or strips.

 

 

When buying canned fruit or apple sauce look for products that are unsweetened, in their own juice and not in syrup.

Avoid giving babies fruit juice which is high in sugar. Babies get all the fluids they need from breastmilk or formula.

Grapes and cherries are common choking hazards. Be sure to cut them into four bite-sized pieces to keep your child safe. This video shows you how.

Grains

Type of Food Ideas for Preparing Food Health and Food Safety Tips

Grains

 

 

 

Cooked barley, brown or wild rice, oats, bulgur, quinoa whole grain breads, bagels,  pasta, couscous, pancakes, unsalted crackers, iron-fortified cereals.

  • When grocery shopping, look for labels that say “whole grain”, “whole wheat flour” and “whole rye”.
  • Once your baby has been introduced to individual grains, fruits and vegetables, make things yummier by mixing flavours. Add vegetables, fruit, herbs or spices to cereals and grains.
When choosing

  • Try to avoid highly processed foods that are high in sugar and/or salt.
    • Sauces (such as: spaghetti and soya sauce, ketchup)
    • Spreads (such as jam and peanut butter with added sugar)
    • Boxed pasted such as macaroni and cheese
    • Breakfast cereals

 

Milk, Milk Products & Alternatives

Type of Food Ideas for Preparing Food Health and Food Safety Tips

Milk products

Plain yogurt, cottage cheese and other types of cheese

  • From 6 months, your baby can have milk products such as yogurt and harder cheese. Grate or cut hard cheese into thin slices to make it easier to eat.
    • Click here to find out when you can offer water, milk, and plant based beverages.
  • Make sure the milk products and cheese are pasteurized. Some soft cheeses (feta, brie, blue cheese, etc.)can be unpasteurized.
  • Unpasteurized milk and cheese may contain bacteria and are not safe for babies (because they have immature immune systems).

Whole Cow’s Milk

 

 

 

 

  • Wait until your baby baby is 9 months old and eating a variety of iron-rich foods before giving whole milk.
    • Babies and children under 2 should be given whole milk.
    • The label should read
      • homogenized
      • 3.25% MF (milk fat)

Let your baby drink from a open (lidless) cup.

  • Limit your baby to 3 cups (750 mL) of cow’s milk per day. Your baby needs a variety of foods to stay healthy.
  • Always use pasteurized cow’s milk. Unpasteurized milk can have bacteria which can make your child sick.
    • Whole milk (3.25% MF) provides the fat and nutrients that children 2 and under need to help their brains and bodies grow.
    • Wait until your child is at least 2 years old before giving:
      • 2% MF cow’s milk
      • any other low fat milk
      • plain fortified soy beverage
      • almond or rice beverage. See Fluids for more information.

 

Check out this video from Nationwide Children’s Hospital on how to cut up foods that are common choking hazards like grapes, cherries and hot dogs.

 

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References and more information: