Your Baby’s First Foods: Tips for Success

Your Baby’s First Foods is a three-part series of blogs on how to introduce solid food to your baby. The first part, ‘Your Baby’s First Foods: Which Method and When’, will introduce you to the common methods, when to start and which foods to start with. The second part, ‘Your Baby’s First Foods: How and How Often’ will give instructions on how to begin the process and the third part, ‘Your Baby’s First Foods: Tips for Success’, will give a few suggestions and tricks to make the process as smooth as possible.

Which foods and how they are cooked, prepared, and presented will be different for every family, but the feeding environment is quite important. Having a positive feeding environment will help give your child the best chance at having a positive relationship with food throughout their life.

The Feeding Environment

  • Always offer meals and snacks at the table, instead of somewhere else.
  • Eliminate distractions from the TV, phones, tablets, toys and so on.
    • It may be tempting as a parent to look at your phone while eating, but if this is a habit you do not want your child to have, then it’s best to lead by example.
  • Try the Division of Responsibility: the parent is responsible for what, when and where the child is fed, while the child is responsible for how much and whether to eat the foods offered by the parent. (See Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding.)
  • Always introduce foods in a low-pressure way. Do not give negative reinforcement (scolding, bribing, forcing) when your child chooses not to try a food.
  • Similarly, do not give positive reinforcement (praising, cheering, rewarding with dessert) when your child chooses to try a food.
    • Instead, praise your child for manners. For instance, “I like the way you hold your spoon, you sit so nicely in your chair.” Try to create a relaxed environment at the table with conversation, and include your child, at 6 months they may not have as much to say but you are laying the foundation for the future that the table is the time to slow down and connect as a family.


Tips for Success

  • Offer whole foods that the family eats instead of baby foods.
  • As parents, we are the best example. Our children will copy our eating behaviours. We have a powerful role shaping our children’s eating habits, food preferences, and relationship with food for life. If you catch yourself saying, “I don’t want my child to eat like me,” then you need to invest in your lifestyle to develop the kind of eating habits you want your children to have.
  • Don’t stop offering previously rejected foods if you and your family are eating them at meals. It took my daughter until she was 13 months old to eat the eggs we offered at breakfast (we eat them at least 4 times a week) and now she loves them!
  • Don’t assume they won’t like a food because it’s too spicy, or because you don’t like it. Let your child decide for himself or herself. As parents, you can encourage new foods by trying them yourself, but never pressure your child. Research suggests that early exposure to various flavours, tastes, and textures increases the chances of kids preferring them later in life.