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Make every bite count for baby’s growth and development

Starting your little one on solid foods is quite a milestone! Since his tummy is so small, and breastmilk is the main source of his nutrition, at around six months of age he will only be taking small tastes of foods. Even these beginning bites are important to his development. He has high needs for nutrition, but only a small stomach that may be filled quickly.

4 mins to read Nov 4, 2016

Babies have different nutritional needs than older children and adults

Considering your baby’s weight, compared to that of a child or adult, he has much higher needs for several nutrients, especially minerals and vitamins. At around six months, when the iron stores that your baby was born with become low, your baby will require a source of iron in addition to breastmilk. Iron-fortified infant cereal, or pureed meat, are often recommended as one of baby’s first foods, because they are such a good source of iron. 


 

Breastmilk + solid foods

As your baby is learning new flavours and textures, breastmilk is still the main source of his energy needs.  At 6-8 months, breastmilk continues to provide most of his energy needs. By 9-12 months, when he is consuming more solid foods, breastmilk will provide less of his energy needs and he will start on usual family foods by 12 months. 

Your baby will drink as much breastmilk as he needs, and from 6 – 12 months you will see that as his appetite for solid foods increases, and he will consume less breastmilk. Offer him foods that are high in the nutrients his growing body requires, especially nutrient rich foods like iron-fortified infant cereal and pureed meats, as well as fruits and vegetables for other minerals and vitamins. Remember to respect his hunger and fullness cues by not pressuring him to eat when he shows you that he is no longer hungry. Another meal will come soon, and your baby may be hungrier at that time.

Protein is important for growth, health, and so much more

Around six months of age, your baby has likely doubled his birth weight and by his first birthday he will have tripled his birth weight, and increased his height by half. This first year will be the most rapid growth of his life.  One of the key nutrients for your baby is protein. Protein is needed to help build his growing muscles and bones as well as repairing his body tissues. 

There is no need to worry about your baby’s protein intake - breastmilk provides just the right mix of high quality protein in the amounts needed for your growing baby. And, new science shows that the levels of protein in breastmilk may also help your child achieve a healthy weight.

Solid foods are needed

The introduction of solid foods is not meant to replace breastmilk, but rather as a complement to the nutrition in breastmilk - which is why first foods are often referred to as complementary foods. 

Around six months of age, introduction of nutrient rich solid foods is important for the following reasons:

  • Provides a source of nutrients your baby requires, in addition to breastmilk.
  • Teaches baby to eat from a spoon.
  • Introduces baby to flavors and textures to help him learn acceptance of these new nutritious foods.
  • Delayed introduction of solid foods may increase the risk of food allergy or eczema; ask your healthcare professional if concerned over introducing foods to your baby.

Make every bite count

When selecting foods for your baby, remember that his stomach is small.  He has little room for foods that don’t provide necessary nutrients.  Do not offer him sweetened foods or beverages, as his tummy may fill up on those foods and he will no longer have room for the nutrient-rich foods that he needs.

As he becomes familiar with a variety of tastes and textures, and as he gets closer to 1 year of age, he will be eating more solid foods.  His daily intake should include fruits, vegetables, meats and grains, in addition to breastmilk.