Feeding Your Baby Solid Foods




View our latest webinar: Feeding Your Baby in the First year

Remember:

  • From 6-12 months of age babies will still receive most of their nutrition from breastmilk.
  • Start with iron-rich foods.
  • During growth spurts babies are hungrier but that doesn't mean they need to start solids earlier.

Health Canada recommends infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months with the gradual introduction of solid foods around six months of age; with continued breastfeeding until 2 years and beyond, or for as long as the mother and child desire.

It is recommended that babies are offered iron-rich nutritious foods as part of their first foods. Foods can be introduced in any order, provided iron-rich foods are included and the food textures are suitable and safe for the infant’s age and stage of development.

It can be an exciting time where babies explore new flavours and textures, parents learn about their baby’s feeding cues and food preferences. So go ahead and grab your camera, and prepare to relax and have a messy fun time!

Keep in mind!

  • Feeding solids can be messy.
  • Experiment! Different babies like different things...
    • Vary the texture: smooth vs lumpy
    • Vary the temperature: warm vs cool.
  • Each baby is different; don't compare your baby's progress with others.

Giving solids before 6 months of age can lead to overfeeding and low breastmilk intake.

When your baby is about 6 months old, he may be ready for you to introduce solid foods. At 6 months of age babies have greater head and neck control and are able to communicate better. Be aware of his cues and ensure he shows most of the signs of readiness before you begin.

Growth spurts

Growth spurts are very normal for babies during the first year. When babies are going through a growth spurt they may seem hungry more often and want to breastfeed a lot more….it does not mean baby needs to start solids sooner….breastfeeding more often is baby’s way of telling mom to make more milk - I am growing!

Any amount of breastfeeding is important for both baby and mom!

From 6-12 months of age babies will continue to receive most of their nutrition from breastmilk. At around six months of age solid foods can be gradually introduced with continued breastfeeding until 2 years and beyond, or for as long as the mother and baby desire.

Visit the Halton Baby Friendly Initiative (external link) for breastfeeding information and support.

Should I keep giving my baby a daily vitamin D supplement from 6 - 12 months of age?

Yes, even though you are introducing solids at 6 months of age the foods baby will eat will not provide enough vitamin D for proper growth and development. All babies need 400IU of vitamin D every day.

  • Babies who are breastfed (exclusively or partially) should get a supplement of 400IU everyday until they are 2 years old or the diet provides enough.

If you have questions or concerns about giving your baby Vitamin D supplement talk to your health care provider or dial 311.

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My baby may be ready for solids when he:

  • Is 6 months old
  • Holds their head up
  • Sits up in a high chair
  • Opens mouth wide when you offer food on a spoon
  • Turns face away from food if not interested
  • Closes lips over the spoon
  • Keeps food in mouth and swallows food

Starting solids too early?

If you introduce solids before 6 months, your baby may:

  • Breastfeed less often, causing you to make less breast milk
  • Stop breastfeeding altogether, losing the protection that breast milk provides against illness and allergies.
  • Have lower iron levels
  • Consume too little protein, fat, and other important nutrients breast milk provides

Waiting too long to introduce solids?

If you wait too late to introduce your baby to solid foods, your baby may:

  • Be slow to accept solids, and exhibit a difficult time chewing
  • Become deficient in crucial vitamins and minerals, including iron and vitamin A

Other signs that are NOT related to feeding my baby solids?

Consider growth spurts, illness, teething, or your baby’s specific developmental stage if your baby shows signs of the following:

  • Increased hunger
  • Restless after feeding
  • Waking at night
  • Increased hand-to-mouth activity
  • Drooling
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No teeth? No problem!

Does your baby need teeth to eat solid foods? The answer is "no!"

Babies have strong gums and jaws. They can mash and crush many soft ripened foods just fine without any or very few teeth. Be sure to offer various food textures and/or appropriate sized food pieces that meet your baby’s stage of development.

For example, start with grated cheese and progress to small cheese cubes that a baby can gum and chew.

Remember: Always secure your baby in a high chair and supervise, supervise!

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Developing healthy eating habits for life starts now. Trust your baby to tell you when they are hungry or full. Establish an eating environment that is fun, relaxed, and has limited distractions.

Tips for getting started:

  • Setting the stage:
    • For safety, sit your baby up straight in a high chair, and do up the seat belt. Never leave your baby alone.
    • Sit so you are facing each other.
    • Keep mealtimes pleasant; never force your baby to eat.
  • How to start:
    • There is no rush. Put a small amount of food on the tip of a small spoon. Hold the spoon so your baby can see it, then put some food on his lips.
    • Breastfeed first, give solid food after your baby has had some time to digest. Continue to breastfeed throughout the day as your baby requires it.
    • Start a new food in the morning or midday when your baby is more likely to be happy and hungry, and there is more opportunity to watch for adverse reactions.
    • Start with single foods, not mixed food combinations.
    • Start your baby on pureed or soft mashed foods. Next, move to finely chopped or minced foods. As your baby gets better at eating, move onto table foods that are safe to eat.
  • Things to remember:
    • If your baby does not swallow the food, he may not be ready for solid food. Wait a few days and try again.
    • If your baby does not like a new food at first, try it again another day. He may need to try a new food many times before he likes it.
    • Give the same food for at least 2-3 days before trying a new food to know whether a particular food is causing a problem. Signs of food allergy may take up to five days to appear.
    • Changing the texture of food is important to help your baby learn to chew. Babies who stay on pureed foods too long may be less willing to eat textured foods.

How often should I feed my baby?

  • Once a day in the beginning: breakfast or lunch.
  • If your baby doesn't respond, don't force him to eat solids. Try again in a couple of days, following your baby’s cues.
  • If your baby wants more solid foods, try adding another mealtime.
  • Gradually work up to feeding your baby solids three times a day. Remember, they are still receiving most of their nutrition from breast milk.

Follow baby’s feeding cues

Signs of hunger:

  • Excited to sit in high chair
  • Opens mouth when offered spoon
  • Grabs at spoon or food
  • Is excited or smacks lips
  • Is engaged and leans forward

Signs of fullness:

  • Closes mouth – refuses to take food from spoon
  • Spits food out
  • Turns head away
  • Fusses or cries
  • Falls asleep

You are responsible for offering appropriate safe and nutritious foods throughout the day.

Trust your baby to:

  • Decide how much to eat
  • How fast or slow to eat
  • Know whether they want to eat it at that moment

Babies like to touch and feel new foods. Let baby explore their foods while learning to eat – it makes for a great photo!

Some content adapted from: Best Start: Ontario's Maternal, Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre (external link)

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Baby’s first foods should include foods that provide sources of iron, zinc, and other vitamins and minerals.

Healthy full-term babies are born with iron stores that start to run out around six months of age. Iron is important for your baby’s growth and development, and it is important to include iron containing foods as part of baby’s first foods.

Offer iron-rich foods two or more times per day such as:

  • iron-fortified infant cereals
  • beef
  • chicken
  • turkey
  • lamb
  • fish
  • pork
  • whole cooked egg
  • tofu
  • well-cooked legumes (beans, lentils or chickpeas)

What types of infant cereal should I feed my baby?

  • Start with an iron-fortified, single grain infant cereal, such as rice. Gradually try other single grain cereals, such as oats, barley, and wheat.
  • Use mixed grain cereals only after your baby has tried each of the single grain cereals.
  • Mix the dry cereal with breast milk. At first make the cereal thin. As your baby becomes better at eating, add less breast milk to make the cereal thicker.
  • Choose plain infant cereals. Cereals with added fruits have extra sugar.
  • Choose cereals without breastmilk substitutes (infant formula) added. Read the labels.
  • Do not give adult cereals.
  • Always feed cereal from a spoon. Never add cereal to a bottle.

Safe meats and alternatives

  • Keep meats and alternatives moist so they are easy to swallow. Add extra water or broth to meats and cooked beans. Use silken (soft) tofu.
  • A cooked whole egg is safe to give baby starting at six months of age.
  • Do not give your baby deli meats such as ham, wieners, bologna, salami or sausages, as they are high in fat and salt.
  • Fish selections should include: white fish, salmon and light, canned tuna.
  • Do not give your baby these fish more than once a month as they are often high in mercury: swordfish, shark, fresh or frozen tuna steak, canned albacore tuna, marlin, orange roughy and escolar.

Fish Facts for Families

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Vegetables and fruits can be introduced in any order along with the introduction of iron-rich foods. It doesn’t matter what types of fruits or vegetables you choose as long as the texture is suitable for your baby’s stage of development. Vegetables and fruits are good sources of Vitamin C which helps your baby’s body absorb the iron form the iron-rich foods they eat.

How should I give vegetables and fruits to my baby?

  • Wash and peel fresh vegetables and fruits before using.
  • Try one, new vegetable or fruit at a time.
  • Start with mild tasting foods such as squash, peas, sweet potatoes, green or yellow beans, apples, peaches, pears, apricots, plums, avocados and bananas.
  • Give your baby cooked and mashed vegetables and fruit. You can mash bananas, papayas, avocados, melon, and canned fruits without cooking them.
  • As your baby gets older, he can have soft pieces of food.
  • Use fresh fruit or canned fruit-in-juice.
  • Avoid “fruit desserts" due to their high sugar content.
  • Store-bought combination vegetable and meat dinners have less nutrients, so use less often.
  • Do not add sugars or salts to your baby’s foods.
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There is no right or wrong way of introducing foods from the various food groups, as long as iron-rich food choices are included every day along with a variety of vegetables, fruits, and grain products, and the texture is suitable for your baby’s stage of development. What kinds of first fruits, vegetables or grains your baby eats can be different from another baby’s first foods…and that is okay.

Once your baby is eating a variety of these food groups begin to offer milk products such as full fat plain yogurt and cheese.

Vegetables & fruits
  • Offer soft, cooked vegetables cut in bite-sized pieces
  • Give pieces of soft, ripe fruit like bananas, peaches and cantaloupe
Grain products
  • Continue to give your baby infant cereal, as it is a good source of iron. If your baby refuses to eat, mix it with fruit or other healthy foods
  • Offer "finger foods" such as pieces of bagel, dry toast strips, rice, roti, noodles, cooked pasta, flat bread and unsalted crackers
Meat & alternatives
  • Give bite-sized pieces of tender meat, fish, cooked beans and tofu
  • If your baby refuses meat, try mixing fish, beans or tofu in sweet potatoes or squash to enhance flavour and texture. Be sure your baby has tried each, new food on its own first before introducing combinations
  • Give cooked whole egg.
Milk & milk products
  • Breast milk is still the most important food for your baby. Continue to breastfeed until your baby is 2 years or older
  • In addition to breast milk, when your baby is 1 year old and eating a variety of foods each day, you can offer homogenized cow’s milk (3.25% milk fat)
  • Do not give skim, 1%, 2% milk, or low-fat milk products, as babies require fat to grow
  • Do not give soy, rice or other vegetarian beverages, as they do not contain enough fat and may not have adequate vitamin D added to them
  • Never give unpasteurized milk
  • Offer yogurt, cottage cheese and small cubes of soft or shredded cheese
  • As your baby gets older, increase the variety of foods and textures that you offer.
  • When your baby is eating a variety of solid foods, give breast milk at mealtime, after solid foods.
  • Many women continue to breastfeed when they return to work or school. To help you with this transition, talk to your health care provider or call a HaltonParents public health nurse, Monday to Friday, 8:30a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at 311 or 905-825-6000.
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The texture of your baby’s food will change as your baby grows and develops. It is important to offer your baby different textures to help them learn to chew. Every infant is different and some will progress faster or slower. Try to match your baby’s developmental skills and appetite cues to the progression of various textures.

Tips for changing food textures:

  • Most healthy babies at six months of age are developmentally ready to handle solids.
  • Babies will spend a short time eating pureed or blended foods. By 7 months of age baby can be offered mashed foods.
  • As soon as a baby is able to safely eat purees move on to lumpier textures and finger foods.
  • It is important to introduced textured food between 7-10 months of age to increase acceptance of textured foods and to decrease risk of feeding difficulties.
  • Babies do not need teeth in order to eat table foods.

TRUE: Babies may gag or spit up food when learning to eat. This is normal…remain calm and always actively supervise!

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  • Encourage self feeding when your baby shows interest.
  • Between 7 - 9 months of age your baby will want to feed themselves.
  • At about 9 months, your baby will be able to pick things up with his thumb and forefinger. This would be a good time to offer small pieces of table food or “finger foods” for snacks or during meals.
  • Let your baby feed himself with his hands or with a plastic-coated baby spoon. Ensure his hands are clean before eating.
  • Expect a mess, as this is a normal part of learning how to eat!
  • By 1 year old, your baby should be eating a variety of foods from each food group and be able to drink liquids from a cup.
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Most babies are ready to feed themselves by eight months of age. Signs of readiness are being able to balance in the high chair and able to pick up things and place them to his mouth.

Tips for finger foods:

  • Start with foods that are large enough to grab and hold
  • Choose foods that become soft in the mouth and can be chewed or gummed easily
  • Provide family foods cut up in small bite-sized pieces so your infant can be part of family meals.

Healthy foods become finger foods…cut food into bite-sized pieces

  • Dry whole wheat toast strips
  • Cooked pasta, rice or couscous
  • Cut up casserole dishes
  • O-shaped cereal such as Cheerios® or Nutrios®
  • Soft ripe peeled banana, peach, kiwi, mango, papaya, melon or avocado
  • Unsweetened canned or cooked soft and peeled apple or pear
  • Cooked carrot, sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, potato, squash
  • Grated or cubed cheese such as mozzarella, cheddar, marble, Swiss
  • Cooked ground beef, chicken, pork or turkey
  • Cooked pieces of meat or poultry
  • Cooked or canned flaked fish
  • Cooked or canned beans or lentils
  • Cooked whole egg
  • Tofu cubes

Choking: Do not give babies foods that are small, hard and round. Cut foods lengthwise to reduce risk of choking and always supervise your baby when eating.

Some content has been adapted from: Best Start: Ontario's Maternal, Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre (external link).

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A healthy full term baby gets all the fluid they need for the first six months from breastmilk. A healthy baby does not need any other fluids, even water, from 0-6 months of age. Remember even from 6 to 12 months of age your baby’s main source of fluid and nutrition is still breastmilk.

Should I keep giving my baby a daily vitamin D from 6 – 12 months of age?

Yes, even though you are introducing solids at 6 months of age the foods baby will eat will not provide enough vitamin D for proper growth and development. All babies need 400IU of vitamin D every day.

  • Babies who are breastfed (exclusively or partially) should get a supplement of 400 IU of vitamin D everyday until they are 12 months old or the diet provides enough.

Visit the Halton Baby Friendly Initiative (external link) for breastfeeding information and support.

Water

After 6 months of age you can start offering your baby water in a cup to quench their thirst with meals and snacks. Offer small amounts of water (~2oz at a time, no more than 4oz per day) so babies can get use to the taste. Remember that breastmilk will still provide babies main source of nutrition and fluids from 6-12months. Water should not replace a baby’s feed.

Juice

Juice is not necessary for a baby after 6 months of age. If given, choose 100% unsweetened, pasteurized fruit juice and offer it in a cup as part of a meal or snack. Do not give juice in a bottle. Babies and toddlers should have no more than 4oz (120ml or ½ cup) per day of 100% fruit juice to avoid interfering with the intake of breast milk.

Cow's milk

Whole (3.25% M.F.) pasteurized cow’s milk may be introduced between 9 to 12 months age and continued throughout the second year of life, and beyond. It is an excellent source of protein, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin D, and other nutrients.

Goats milk

A full-fat pasteurized goat's milk may be used as an alternative to cow's milk and can be introduced between 9 to 12 months of age. Be sure to choose a pasteurized whole fat goat’s milk product with added vitamin A and vitamin D.

IMPORTANT: Do not give babies unpasteurized cow’s or goat’s milk.

Vegetarian beverages

Soy, rice and other vegetarian beverages, whether or not they are "fortified," are NOT appropriate alternatives to breast milk or to pasteurized whole milk in the first two years. "Fortified" vegetarian beverages will be fortified with vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin, calcium and zinc, and may contain other vitamins and minerals. However, there are no minimum requirements for total fat or protein. Rice and vegetarian beverages other than soy contain virtually no protein and if used as a whole or major source of nutrition, may result in poor growth and development.

Other drinks… not recommended for babies and young children:

  • Coffee, tea, carbonated beverages, herbal teas and hot chocolate.
  • Sodas, fruit drinks, punches and sport drinks.
  • Drinks containing artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or sucralose (Splenda).

Remember: Feeding from a cup or bottle must always be supervised. There is danger of choking if a bottle is propped to feed a baby.

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Safety must always be top of mind as your baby learns to chew and swallow foods. Keeping foods safe, reducing risk of choking and knowing signs of food allergies are important in helping to keep your baby well.

Babies will gag and spit up foods from time to time as they are learning to eat. It is most important to actively supervise your baby at all times when eating to keep baby safe.

Babies can easily choke; always stay with your baby while he is eating. Stop feeding if your baby is crying or laughing, and do not feed your baby in a moving car.

Foods to avoid

To reduce choking risks do not give babies and small children the following foods:

  • Foods that is hard, small, and round (e.g., nuts, seeds, dried fruits, popcorn, potato chips, whole grapes or strawberries, pieces of hot dogs or hard vegetables).
  • Foods that are smooth and sticky on their own (e.g., peanut butter, gum)
  • Honey or any food containing honey for the first year, due to the risk of botulism, or food poisoning.
  • Swordfish, shark, fresh or frozen tuna steak, canned albacore tuna, marlin, orange roughy and escolar can contain high levels of mercury, therefore limit feedings to once per month.
  • Do not prop a bottle to feed a baby there is a danger of choking. Feeding from a cup or bottle must always be supervised.

Reduce the risk! Cut foods lengthwise to reduce risk of choking and always supervise your baby when eating.

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Tips:

  • Do not let children touch raw meat, poultry or fish.
  • Do not serve raw alfalfa or bean sprouts to your children. Cooked sprouts are safe to eat.
  • Never give your child foods containing raw eggs (e.g., cookie dough, cake batter)
  • Serve only pasteurized milk and juice to your child.
  • Do not give honey to a baby under 1 year of age.

Keeping foods safe is important to ensuring your baby’s foods are healthy and nutritious. How we store, handle and prepare our foods all contribute to keeping our foods safe. Babies and young children are at an increased risk of complications from food poisoning because their immune systems are still developing.

Things you can do to keep baby and baby’s foods safe:

Clean

  • Clean your hands and baby’s hands and face with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before eating
  • Properly clean all kitchen surfaces and utensils with hot soapy water
  • Wash fruit and vegetables under cold running water
  • Wash your reusable grocery bags

Separate foods

  • Separate raw meat, poultry, fish, seafood and eggs from other food in your grocery cart and in your refrigerator.
  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat, poultry and fish and another for vegetables and fruits.
  • Don't use the same plate or utensils for raw and cooked meat, poultry, fish or seafood
  • Clean your food thermometer in warm, soapy water between temperature readings to avoid cross-contamination.

Cook and reheat

  • Thaw foods in the refrigerator, in a microwave or in a sealed container that is submersed in a cold water.
  • Do not thaw foods on the counter at room temperature.
  • Do not refreeze thawed foods.
  • Cook raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood to a safe internal temperature.
  • Use a digital food thermometer to check. Colour alone is not a reliable indicator that meat is safe to eat. Meat can turn brown before all the bacteria are killed.

Chill

  • Keep cold food cold and hot food hot.
  • Cool leftovers quickly by placing them in shallow containers. Refrigerate as soon as possible or within two hours.
  • Don’t leave prepared foods out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

Do not give honey to a baby under 1 year of age… it can cause a serious type of food poisoning called infant botulism. Infant botulism is caused by bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, which commonly exists in nature. If an infant swallows honey contaminated with spores of the bacteria, the spores may grow and produce toxins in the baby's body and could cause paralysis. Healthy children over one year of age can safely eat honey as their risk of developing infant botulism is very low.

Information adapted from Health Canada (external link)

Keep baby food safe:

  • Serve freshly made baby food or an opened jar of store-bought baby food right away. You can also store it in a covered container in the fridge for a maximum of 2 - 3 days.
  • You can store homemade baby food in a fridge freezer for 2 months or a deep freezer for 6 months.
  • Make sure the safety seal on a jar of store-bought baby food is not broken by listening for a "popping" sound when opening.
  • Check the "best before” date on store-bought baby food.
  • Do not feed your baby directly from a jar or container of baby food unless you’re giving your baby the entire amount. Throw out any unused food that has come into contact with your baby’s saliva.

Symptoms of food poisoning in young children:

  • May vary from mild stomach ache, vomiting, diarrhea and fever/chills to extremely severe illness requiring hospitalization.
  • Young children can also experience dehydration as their bodies are smaller and they can lose a high percentage of body fluid very quickly.

Seek medical attention if your baby experiences any of the above symptoms.

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Food allergies are a common concern for parents when introducing foods to baby. Babies who are not breastfed have an increased risk of developing allergies. However, there is no evidence that delaying the introduction of solid foods beyond six months of age reduces the risk of food allergies.

What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?

  • Flushed face, hives, rash, red/itchy skin
  • Stomach pain, cramping, vomit and/or diarrhea
  • Swelling of eyes, face lips, throat and tongue

What should I do if my baby shows symptoms of an allergic reaction?

  • Stop feeding your baby the food you think caused the reaction
  • Call to make an appointment with your baby’s health care provider.

Signs of a severe and sudden allergic reaction also include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Unable to swallow
  • Swelling of the tongue, mouth and/or throat
  • Loss of consciousness

IMPORTANT!

What to do if your baby shows severe and sudden symptoms?

  • Severe symptoms require immediate medical attention.
  • Take your baby to the nearest emergency department or call 911 right away for medical assistance.

What should I know about food allergies?

  • Your baby is more likely to have an allergy of some kind if one or both parents or brothers or sisters have allergies, asthma, or eczema.
  • There is no cure for food allergies. You must avoid the food to prevent a reaction.
  • Do not delay giving your baby foods such as nuts products, wheat, cow’s milk products, fish and/or eggs to prevent food allergies. These foods can be introduced after six months of age.
  • Some foods allergies may disappear with age.

What parents can do…

  • Introduce one new food at a time to baby to watch for allergic reactions and to identify that food. Wait at least 2-3 days before offering baby another new food.
  • Watch for allergic reactions when you offer new foods.
  • Even if you have a family history of food allergy you do not need to delay introduction of those allergenic foods to your baby.
  • Mothers do not need to restrict their diets during pregnancy or during breastfeeding to prevent food allergies in their babies.
  • If your baby has been diagnosed with a food or other allergy, speak to your health care provider.
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Taking care of your baby’s first teeth is important to prevent Early Childhood Tooth Decay (ECTD). Baby teeth are important to help chew, speak and hold space for adult teeth and for good health.

How do I take care of my baby’s mouth and teeth?

  • Before teeth have erupted (pushed through the gum), gently clean your baby’s mouth twice a day using a clean piece of gauze or the corner of a clean washcloth.
  • When baby teeth start to appear, use a small soft toothbrush to clean them.
  • Do not use a bottle as a pacifier, particularly at bedtime, to reduce risk of early childhood tooth decay.
  • Do not add sugar or syrups to a baby’s food this increases the risk of tooth decay.
  • Avoid juices and sugar sweetened drinks. Limit foods with added sugars.
  • Check your baby’s teeth. Lift the baby’s top lip and look at the front and back of the top four teeth. If there are any brown or white spots between the teeth or along the gum line, take your child to the dentist.
  • For children under age 3, no fluoride toothpaste is needed unless advised by an oral health professional.

More information on your babies teeth

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Mother and a baby.Making your own baby food can be a rewarding experience and for many mothers it is a labour of love. It is an easy and convenient way to provide a variety of different foods to meet your baby’s changing needs. All you have to do is set aside a few sticks of carrots, a couple of pears or some pieces of chicken to steam, stew or boil while preparing your own meal.

Why make my own baby food?

  • Saves money - Commercially prepared baby food can be costly. Making your own baby food, using fresh or frozen foods can cost less.
  • Adds variety -The selection of commercially prepared baby foods is limited. You can offer more variety by making your own baby food.
  • Easy to prepare and store - You don’t need fancy equipment to make your own baby food. Freshly made baby food can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to be used when needed.
  • Gives you control over texture - By making your own baby food you can change the texture to meet your baby’s changing needs. This will make the transition to table food easier.

What do I need to get started?

  1. A little bit of time
  2. A clean work area
  3. Cutting board and knife
  4. Pot
  5. Baby food mill or sieve and spoon or blender
         Baby Food Mill            Sieve and Spoon        Blender

What are the different blending methods?

  1. Baby food mill
    Place the cooked food into the baby food mill. Grind food into a clean bowl. You may need to add some liquid to moisten the food to make sure it is the right texture.
  2. Sieve and spoon
    Mash the cooked food with a fork and press through the sieve with a spoon. Collect the food from the bottom of the sieve into a clean dish.
  3. Blender
    Use any type of blender. Blend about 3/4 cup of cooked food with a small amount of liquid. Blend for a short period of time and do not over blend.

Remember that your baby will only need finely mashed or blended foods for a short period of time. Make foods lumpier as your baby learns to eat foods with more texture.

Clean your equipment before you start.

  • If equipment is dishwasher safe, use a dishwasher on the sani cycle.
  • If washing by hand, wash and rinse item then sanitize by:
    • immersing in 77°C (170°F) water for 45 seconds
      or
    • immersing in warm water with 100 parts per million of chlorine for 45 seconds. To make this solution, mix 2 mL(1/2 tsp) of household bleach per 1 litre of water.

How do I prepare homemade baby food?

Food group Preparation instructions Things to note

Grains

Choose an iron-fortified infant cereal.

Cerial

  1. Measure out the amount you
    think your baby will eat.
  2. Add breast milk, or other liquid
    and then stir.
  • Stir well to ensure all the lumps are removed and it is the same temperature throughout.

Vegetables

Try fresh or frozen vegetables like beans, peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and beets.

Various vegetables

  1. Wash, peel and slice vegetables.
  2. Bring water to a boil in a sauce pan. Add vegetables and boil for 10-12 minutes or until tender
    OR
    Place vegetables into a steamer for 7-12 minutes or until tender.
    OR
    Place vegetables in a microwave-safe bowl with a little water and cook on medium high heat for 5 minutes or until tender.
  3. Remove vegetables from heat and drain. Save the cooking liquid to adjust the texture.
  4. Finely mash or blend.
  • Prepare vegetables without adding salt or seasonings. There is no need to salt the water when cooking vegetables for your baby.

  • It is okay to use canned vegetables – just drain and rinse before cooking.

  • Don’t let your own likes and dislikes limit the foods you offer your baby.

Fruit

Try fresh or frozen fruits such as apples, peaches, pears, bananas, apricots and blueberries.

Various fruit

  1. Wash, peel, pit and/or seed, and slice fresh fruit.
  2. If using a hard fruit, such as apples, boil in a small amount of water to soften.
  3. Finely mash or blend with saved water.
  • You can mash some fruits such as bananas or ripe pears, without cooking them first.

  • You can use canned fruit to make baby food. Be sure to choose fruits packed in fruit juice or water, not syrup. Drain before mashing.

  • Frozen fruit should be thawed before being mashed.

Meat

Use unseasoned, lean, raw: beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey or fish.

Various meats

  1. Boil, steam, bake, broil or stew, meat. Cook until tender and meat separates easily from the bone.
  2. Cut into small pieces and remove all bones and fat after cooking.
  3. Finely grind or blend, adding water or broth to get the proper texture.
  • If cooking fish, use de-boned fish fillets. Simmer fillets in water or whole milk for five to ten minutes until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

  • Cook meats without adding salt or seasonings.

How do I store home-made baby food?

  • To store in the refrigerator
    • Once prepared, you can store home-made baby food in a small, clean, tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
    • Refrigerators should be maintained at 4°C (40°F) or colder.
  • To store in the freezer
    • Put prepared baby food into an ice cube tray, or drop by spoonful onto a clean cookie sheet.
    • Cover the food with plastic wrap and place in freezer.
    • Once the food is frozen, remove it from the tray and place into a re-sealable freezer bag.
    • Remove as much air from the bag as possible.
    • Label and write the date on each bag so you will know which cubes to use first. Baby food can be kept in the freezer for up to 2 months.

    Note: Health Canada does not recommend the use of products containing Bisphenol A (BPA).

What do I need to freeze my homemade baby food?

Prepared Baby Food in a bowl with a spoon.
Prepared baby food
and clean spoon

Ice Cube Trays
Ice cube tray or
cookie sheet

Re-sealable Freezer Bags
Re-sealable
freezer bags

A woman looking into a freezer.
Freezer



Safety tip

Baby food that is thawed on the counter may make your baby sick. Always thaw baby food in the refrigerator at 4°C(40°F) or colder.

How do I thaw frozen baby food?

Stove

  • Thaw frozen baby food in the refrigerator.
  • Once it has been thawed, heat the cube(s) of food in a double-boiler or in a heat-proof bowl in a pot of warm water for a few minutes.

Microwave

  • Microwave on medium-low heat for about 30 seconds. Baby food should be luke-warm, DO NOT OVER HEAT!
  • Be sure to stir well to ensure all the food is the same temperature to prevent burning your baby’s mouth.
  • Do not refreeze thawed food.

Keep in mind your baby will tell you when she has had enough or if he wants more, so watch baby’s cues. Feeding your baby is a wonderful way for the two of you to share quality time. Be patient and keep mealtime a happy time. Stay positive and enjoy watching your baby grow.

Adapted from materials produced by the York Region Health Services Department. May be reproduced without permission provided source is acknowledged.

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Commercial baby food:

  • Can be expensive.
  • Requires no preparation time.
  • Is easy to use and store…
  • Offers limited texture and variety. Babies nearing 1 year are ready for more texture than commercial baby foods provide.
     

Tips when using:

  • Start with a plain, single grain iron fortified infant cereal or a meat puree.
  • Read the ingredient list. Foods are listed in order of quantity from most to least.
  • Choose foods without added sugar, fat and thickeners.
  • Do not serve fruit products labelled “dessert” or “custards”.
  • Check the expiry date on the package. Do not use and throw away if past expiry date or safety seal is broken.
  • Do not feed your baby directly from the jar. Put a small portion of food in a dish and feed your baby from the dish. The remainder of the food in the jar may be stored for later use in the fridge for 2-3 days. Any leftover food remaining in the dish (which was used to feed the baby) should be discarded.
  • Keep your baby’s food safe. Opened jars of baby food should be stored in the refrigerator and thrown away if not consumed within 2 to 3 days.
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Reading food labels can benefit everyone in the family. All baby foods will have food labels on them that provide nutrition information to help you make healthier food choices.

List of ingredients:

  • Is found on all packaged food products.
  • It is a list of all the ingredients in a food product.
  • The ingredients are listed in order of weight, from most to least. This means that the food contains more of the ingredients at the beginning of the list and less of the ingredients at the end of the list.

Nutrition facts table

The nutrition facts table helps parents to…

  • Choose products more easily,
  • Compare two products to make better food choices for you and your family.
  • Learn about the nutrition information of the foods you eat.
  • Better manage special diets.
  • Increase or decrease your intake of any nutrient.

Baby Food Nutrition FactsIn the case of foods sold for children less than two years of age, the nutrition facts table includes:

  • the title "Nutrition Facts";
  • the serving of stated size;
  • the number of calories;
  • the amounts of fat, sodium, carbohydrate, fibre, sugars, and protein;
  • and the percent daily value of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron.

Learn more about nutrition labelling

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A little planning goes a long way in enjoying an outing with the family and baby. Just like repacking the diaper bag with extras clothes and things, be sure to pack baby some healthy food choices for wherever you go. Plan how long you will be out and how much baby food you will need, and then pack a little extra just in case. Babies are never too young to have their own lunch bag. Pack baby’s food in a quality insulated lunch bag and add a small freezer pack to keep foods safe.

Simple tips for going out with baby:

  • Pack soft foods like bananas, peaches, pears or avocados that mash easily with a fork..
  • Go litter less! Use small, plastic containers to carry things like fruit sauce, yogurt, dried cereal, infant cereal, unsalted whole wheat crackers, grated cheese, cooked pasta, cooked vegetables or cooked meats/poultry.
  • Bring leftover casserole, homemade soup or a homemade dish that baby enjoys.
  • Pack a spoon, fork, plastic bowl, bib, clean cloth and cup for baby to use.

Eating out at a restaurant may be a little trickier than bringing foods from home, but with some planning and asking your server questions, you can navigate the menu to healthier food choices for you and baby.

When ordering foods at a restaurant look for:

  • Foods with no added fats, oils or salts
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Baked, broiled, grilled or roasted meats or poultry
  • Baked beans or tofu dishes
  • Baked, roasted or broiled potato
  • Steamed rice, couscous
  • Pasta with no added oils

Avoid ordering the following foods for a baby at a restaurant:

  • Foods that are deep-fried, fried or breaded (i.e. chicken nuggets, fried rice, french fries, fried vegetables, etc.)
  • Deli meats and/or processed meats
  • Foods served with rich sauces and gravies
  • Raw or undercooked meats, poultry or fish
  • Foods that contain raw egg products
  • Cakes, cookies, donuts, chocolate, pie, ice cream

Note: Babies do not need foods with added salt, sugar or fats.

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Telephone support

Connect with a HaltonParents public health nurse to receive support and up-to-date information regarding pregnancy, infant care, breastfeeding and infant nutrition, and other related health topics.

  • Dial 311 or 905-825-6000
  • Toll Free 1-866-442-5866
  • TTY 905-827-9833

Sample menus for baby

These menus are to be used as a guide only. Continue to breastfeed your baby on demand. When your baby is eating a variety of solid foods, give breast milk after solids during mealtimes. 

  6 months 6-9 months 9-12 months
Early morning
  • Breast milk
  • Breast milk
  • Breast milk
Morning/breakfast
  • Breast milk
  • Iron-fortified infant cereal mixed with breast milk or water
  • Breast milk
  • Iron-fortified infant cereal mixed with breast milk or water
  • Mashed fruit
  • Breast milk
  • Iron-fortified infant cereal mixed with breast milk or water
  • Soft fruit
Snack
  • None
  • Small pieces of toast
  • Bread
  • Crackers
  • Roti or pita
  • Unsweetened dry cereal
  • Breast milk from a cup
Noon/lunch
  • Breast milk
  • Breast milk
  • Mashed vegetables
  • Plain, mashed or finely-chopped meat or meat alternatives (including fish, cooked legumes, beans, lentils, tofu and whole eggs)
  • Mashed fruit
  • Iron-fortified infant cereal mixed with breast milk or water
  • Chopped meat or meat alternatives (including fish, cooked legumes, beans, lentils, tofu and whole eggs)
  • Cooked pasta, cooked rice or chopped vegetables
  • Soft fruit
  • Breast milk from a cup
Snack
  • None
  • None
  • Plain muffin
  • Cubes of soft cheese
Evening/dinner
  • Breast milk
  • Iron-fortified infant cereal mixed with breast milk or water
  • Plain pureed meat or meat alternatives (including fish, cooked legumes, beans, lentils, tofu and whole eggs)
     
  • Breast milk
  • Iron-fortified infant cereal mixed with breast milk or water
  • Plain, mashed or finely-chopped meat or meat alternatives (including fish, cooked legumes, beans, lentils, tofu and whole eggs)
  • Mashed vegetables or fruit
  • Chopped meat or meat alternatives (including fish, cooked legumes, beans, lentils, tofu and whole eggs)
  • Cooked pasta, cooked rice or chopped vegetables
  • Soft fruit and/or plain yogurt
  • Breast milk
Snack
  • Breast milk
  • Breast milk
  • Small pieces of toast, bread, crackers, roti or pita
  • Breast milk
  • Small pieces of toast, bread and unsalted crackers

Adapted from: Best Start: Ontario's Maternal, Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre (external link).

Related links

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