The Mess and Fun of Starting Solid Foods

Updated January 30th, 2019

When you introduce your baby to solid foods you open up a whole new world of smells, tastes, textures and experiences.  That is part of the learning fun and is the start of your child developing a healthy relationship with food.

When is my baby ready to start solids?

Your baby is ready to start solid foods when he is 6 months of age and can:

  • Sit up on his own with very little help and lean forward
  • Hold his head up with good control
  • Open his mouth when you offer food
  • Turn his head away to refuse food
  • Keep most of the food you give him in his mouth (he doesn’t push it out with his tongue)
Hot parent tips:
  • All babies go through growth spurts and will want to feed more often. If your baby is not yet 6 months old, he does not need to start solids. Just continue to breast or formula feed your baby on cue to provide the extra nutrition he needs.
  • Starting solid foods before 6 months will not help your baby sleep through the night.
  • If you give your baby solid foods before she is ready, she may:
    • Drink less breastmilk or formula and be at risk for iron deficiency
    • Have a hard time swallowing food and be more likely to choke

What is my job?

Once your baby starts solid foods, you decide:

  • What foods to offer
  • When to offer them
  • Where your baby is fed
Hot parent tips:
  • Offer food to your baby on a regular schedule. See table below for timing suggestions.
  • Feed your baby at the table when the rest of the family is eating.
  • Your job is to offer your baby healthy foods in a pleasant environment. After that, sit back and enjoy the fun and mess!

What is my baby’s job?

Babies naturally know how much to eat. Your baby decides:

  • Whether he eats
    • You don’t need to worry if your baby seems to be picky.
  • How much to eat
    • Babies will eat as much as they need to grow well.
    • Allow your child to eat as much as he wants and stop eating when he is feeling full. This teaches him to listen to his hunger cues and understand when he is full.
Your baby will tell you he is hungry by:
  • Opening his mouth when you offer him food
  • Getting excited when you place him in the highchair or at the table for meals
  • Leaning towards and reaching for food
  • Becoming upset when the food is taken away
Your baby will tell you he is full by:
  • Shutting his mouth when you offer him food
  • Turning his head or pushing the food away
  • Getting distracted from eating
  • Crying and fussing to get out of the highchair or away from the table
Hot Parent Tip:
  • Don’t force him to eat if he doesn’t want to and don’t stop him from eating before he is full. This allows your baby to listen to his hunger and fullness cues. Babies’ appetites can change from day to day.

Do I still keep breastfeeding and/or bottle-feeding my baby?

  • Continue on breastfeeding, and or formula feeding your baby on cue.  This is still your baby’s main source of nutrition as they learn to eat solid foods.
  • Continue giving vitamin D daily.
  • If you are breastfeeding, continue doing so until your child is 2 years old or older. Breastfeeding provides many benefits to both you and your child.
  • For ideas on how to incorporate starting solids with breastfeeding or formula feeding click here.

Getting started- share the experience, show the yum!

Your baby is learning all about food- how it tastes, smells, feels…if it can be used as paint? It’s going to get messy, but exploring is part of the learning fun.

  • Some tips for coping with the mess:
    • set up a splash matt under the highchair
    • put your baby in the highchair in nothing but his diaper- for easier clean up and less laundry
    • sit back, relax and take some photos

Your baby wants to do what you do- if you look like your enjoying the taste and texture- chances are they will too.

  • Include your baby at family meal times. Talk with your baby and  limit distractions such as toys, telephones and television.

Now to get started! See our article on What foods do I give my Baby First?

Quick links:


If you have a nutrition or food question, call Dial-a-Dietitian Manitoba at 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg or 1-877-830-2892. The Dial-a-Dietitian phone number is currently redirected to Health Links-Info Santé. You can leave a message with a nurse and a dietitian will return your call.