Introducing New Foods to Your Baby

Wooden high chair tray with baby reaching for spoon with spaghetti noodles and tomato sauce all over the tray

When it comes to introducing new foods to your baby, it’s easy to overlook how influential you are on your child. You can influence their future in terms of their openness to try new foods and the size of their pallet! So, how can you introduce new foods to your baby without making it a bad experience for everyone? You model positive food behaviour, repeat exposure to a new food, and create positive mealtime experiences.


Introducing New Foods – Division of Responsibility

Helping Your Kids Develop a Healthy Relationship With Food briefly discusses Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility between parent and child. It’s very important to remember your roles and your child’s roles during meal time, especially when introducing new foods to your baby.

According to Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility (1, 2):

The parent is responsible for:

    • WHAT the child eats (what food is offered)
      • Planning balanced meals
        • Plan for a variety of textures, colours, and flavours
    • WHEN the child eats
      • Routines help create positive habits
        • A routine meal time means they will likely be hungry when sitting for a meal
        • Bonus: if they’re hungry they will be more likely to try new things
    • WHERE the child eats
      • Limit distractions
      • Sitting together as a family creates more opportunities to role model healthy food relationships and eat a variety of food

The child is responsible for:

    • HOW MUCH they eat
      • Only your child knows when they’re hungry or full
      • Forcing them to eat more than they want can create a negative experience with that food
    • IF they eat
      • Children won’t starve themselves
      • They will eventually eat if they’rehungry, even if it’s food they claim they don’t like

Remembering these roles can help you create positive experiences when introducing new foods to your baby, therefore making the challenge a little easier on everyone.


How to Motivate Your Baby to Try New Food

PLAN family meal times

    • Set aside time for everyone to eat together at least once a week (1). This will allow everyone in the household to role model eating behaviours. 


    • Children may be more willing to try new things if they see others eating it (1)

SCHEDULE your meals

    • Offering 3 meals and 3 snacks a day at set times will help build a routine for your child. If they don’t eat at one meal time they can eat at the next with water in between meals (1)

POSITIVE eating environment 

    • A positive (pressure-free) environment during meals, especially when exposing your child to new foods can make all of the difference. If they are enjoying the time with you they’re likely going to enjoy the meal. Therefore, creating a better chance of eating that new food again in the future (1)


    • Meals should be an opportunity to spend time together, therefore should be distraction free1. This will also help you role model desired behaviours much easier if they are only focused on you and others at the table. 

Prepare ONE MEAL

    • Your child will be more likely to eat the food they are given if they know they won’t get their favourite food if they refuse a meal (1)


    • Listening to your child when they don’t want to eat is essential for a positive (pressure-free) eating environment1. They know when they are hungry or full, so food shouldn’t be forced (1)

TRY & try again

    • Remember, it can take up to 15 times (or more) for a child to try a food before they decide they like it (1). So, continue to offer the food on different days, in different recipes, and at different times, even if they refuse it (1)

LIMIT meal times

    • Give your child 30 minutes to eat a meal, or at least try it, before putting it away to save for the next meal (1). Letting them sit there for hours won’t increase the likelihood of them trying it, and only giving them 10 minutes to try it creates pressure to eat. 


    • Don’t pressure, praise, reward, or trick your child into eating1. It’s all about trust; you trust them to eat when they’re hungry, and they’ll trust you when you give them new foods.


Introducing New Textures

Textures are a common reason to dislike foods. This is why you want to make sure that you expose your child to many different textures when safely introducing solids. Pureed, mashed, lumpy, ground, and finely minced are great textures to start with2

When introducing new textures, it’s very important to avoid forcing food onto your baby (3). They will let you know when they’ve had enough by turning their head, closing their mouth, and/or pushing their food away (3).


Don’t Give Up on New Foods

It can get frustrating trying to introduce food to your baby, but if you remember a few simple things, these introductions should go a lot smoother. 

  1. It can take many tries for your child to like a food (3)
  2. You can mix solid food with breast milk to slowly introduce new foods (3)
  3. Try serving the food at different temperatures and in different recipes (3)
  4. Offer the food when you think they’re most hungry (3)
  5. Feed them while others are eating (3)
  6. Let them feed themselves; it takes the pressure off (3)

It’s very normal for children to not want a certain food, to change their mind about a certain food, and to want the same thing every day (3).


Final Notes From The Nest

Introducing new foods to your child can certainly be challenging, and at times frustrating. However, just remember your role as the parent, that it can take several tries for your child to like the food, and to trust your child and the process. Keeping all of this in mind can make these introductions go a lot smoother for both you and your child. If you continue to have difficulty introducing new foods to your child, or just want individualized advice, a dietitian can certainly help you plan your next steps. Infact, we offer an Introducing Solids Program where we go over how to develop a good eater from day one!


Article written by Spencer Wentzell

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  1. “Say Goodbye to Picky Eating!” Unlock Food. Dietitians of Canada, June 20, 2022.!.aspx 
  2. Raise a healthy child who is a joy to feed [Internet]. Ellyn Satter Institute. [cited 2022Sep2]. Available from:
  3. “Introducing Solid Food to Your Baby.” Unlock Food. Dietitians of Canada, June 10, 2020.