Your baby’s first spoonful of food marks an exciting and important milestone in their development. They have begun their journey of discovery into the world of food, and you have a precious opportunity to encourage a love of healthy eating that may last a lifetime.
However, the start of complementary feeding doesn’t mean the end of breastfeeding or formula feeding. The introduction of solid food is a gradual process, and breast milk and/or infant formula will continue to be your baby’s main source of nutrition in the first year. Health Canada recommends that you continue to provide breast milk for up to 2 years or beyond, as long as you and your baby want to continue.
Confused? Follow these eight simple tips for a smooth transition:
- Continue feeding on demand
Between six and eight months old, most babies need about 70% of their calories from breast milk and/or formula, and only 30% from complementary foods. You may notice your baby drinks less , or needs fewer feedings, compared with a few months ago before you started offering solids. However, the amount they drink probably won’t decrease significantly, especially in the early days. Continue to offer your baby breast milk and/or infant formula as often as they want, day or night. Remember, breast milk contains antibodies, probiotics, and proteins. These amazing components do more than just feed your little one – they help protect her from infections and viruses.
- Choose iron-rich foods
Iron is an essential nutrient for your baby’s healthy brain growth and development. As you know, your baby was born with stores of iron that they could draw from for their first few months, but these start to run low at around six months of age. The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends iron-fortified infant cereals as an ideal first food.
- Offer a variety of flavours
Allow your baby to experience and learn different flavours, and later textures, so she can grow into a child who happily eats a wide variety of foods.
- Help avoid frustration
Especially in the early days of complementary feeding, if your baby seems extremely hungry, consider feeding some breast milk or formula first. Some moms try this before offering foods so their baby’s hunger has been satisfied a bit and their little one can take time adapting to spoon-feeding. Continue to breastfeed or formula feed whenever your baby shows signs of being hungry.
- Don’t give her cow’s milk too early
Cow’s milk isn’t recommended for infants until they reach at least 9 months of age. This is because it’s low in iron, and also too high in salt, protein, and calcium for their developing digestive system. Instead, continue to offer breast milk and/or formula, which will still be the main source of nutrition for your baby in the first year.
- Make feeding fun!
As always, let your baby decide if they’re hungry, and how much they want to eat and drink. Feeding should be a pleasant, positive experience for both of you, so avoid any pressure and enjoy it. Watching their expression as they taste a new flavour for the first time, or finally gets food into their mouth by themself, are special moments to be cherished. This is their opportunity to learn about the tastes of different foods and, eventually, how to use a spoon—life skills that they’ll carry with them as they grow.
- Remember your roles
You and your baby each play important roles during this complementary feeding stage. It’s your job to decide which nutritious foods to offer your baby and when. So choose healthy, nutrient-rich foods with plenty of variety, and respond to their signs of hunger and fullness. Your baby is responsible for deciding if they want to eat, and if so, how much. If you both perform well in your roles, you’ll have put your baby on the path to a life of good health and good food.
American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. The use of whole cow’s milk in infancy. Pediatrics 1992; 89(6):1105-9.
Black MM, Aboud FE. Responsive feeding is embedded in a theoretical framework of responsive parenting. J Nutr 2011; 141(3):490-4.
de Lauzon-Guillain B, Jones L, Oliveira A et al. The influence of early feeding practices on fruit and vegetable intake among preschool children in 4 European birth cohorts. Am J Clin Nutr 2013; 98(3):804-12.
Finn K, Callen C, Bhatia J et al. Importance of dietary sources of iron in infants and toddlers: Lessons from the FITS study. Nutrients 2017; 9(7):doi: 10.3390/nu9070733.
Horta BL, Loret de Mola C, Victora CG. Long-term consequences of breastfeeding on cholesterol, obesity, systolic blood pressure and type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Paediatr 2015; 104(467):30-7.
Joint statement of Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, and Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants: Recommendations from Six to 24 Months. 2014. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/healthy-…
Maier-Noth A, Schaal B, Leathwood P et al. The lasting influences of early food-related variety experience: A longitudinal study of vegetable acceptance from 5 months to 6 years in two populations. PLoS One 2016; 11(3): e0151356. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0151356.
Victora CG, Bahl R, Barrios AJ et al. Lancet Breastfeeding Series Group. Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. Lancet 2016; 387(10017):475-90.
World Health Organization. Infant and young child feeding: Model chapter for textbooks for medical students and allied health professionals. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2009.
Get full access to expert-backed nutrition support, high-value coupons on our trusted brands and much more!
Free Ready-for-Baby Savings Pack.
Around 35 weeks of pregnancy expect to receive our Baby Pack filled with high-value coupons and useful information you and your baby will love!
Special Member Savings
Receive personalized coupons and savings on trusted products in your email inbox - and home mailbox - as your baby grows.
Expert advice, articles, recipes, tips and tools for all the special, hard and at times hectic days of parenting.
Nutritional guidance for growth
Specialized nutritional guidance and science-based expertise for every stage of the parenting journey - from preconception to toddlerhood.
*When registration is during pregnancy. If your baby’s already been born, expect to see your kit within a month
Still haven't found what you are looking for?
Try our new smart question engine.