Absolutely! We now know that eating habits and relationships with food developed prior to your child’s 2nd birthday are likely to be what he carries through into adulthood. So a diet laden with deep-fried food and sugary beverages, and eaten in excess (overriding fullness cues), especially to overcome boredom or emotional needs rather than hunger, can and does result in significantly higher rates of weight-related issues.
Conversely, healthy eating habits developed before his 2nd birthday can and do remain with him for life! Learning what is healthy, how to develop and enjoy preferences for these foods, when to respond to cues of fullness to promote appetite regulation, and why to not offer foods as rewards and/or for anything other than hunger, are all imperative. Guiding your child through these skills will ensure he has the start in life he deserves. [12, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, 52, 60, 69, 85]
Research has shown that by the time he is 3 years old he has already developed his food likes and dislikes, good or bad, healthy or otherwise! The good news is we are presented with a window of opportunity  to alter these preferences through exposure during a very sensitive period of his life.[24, 48] These first exposures can start as early as 8 weeks post-conception, via a mother’s amniotic fluid, and later on via breast milk. Therefore, a mother can start flavour training long before the introduction of solid foods, simply through the foods she chooses to eat. [65, 84]
We also know our babies’ brains are little sponges and even in the first 6 months of life they are soaking up everything around them. Whether you are breastfeeding or not, had a diet of kale or cookies throughout pregnancy, it is never too early or too late to start this learning.
Sometime between 4 and 6 months is generally when babies are physically and emotionally ready to start solids. However, every baby is different so it is important that you watch for clues he is ready rather than going by the calendar. Here are some signs that he may be ready:
Some babies go through a growth spurt at around 12 weeks and may want more feeds. This is normal and does not signal the need to start solid foods. It is tempting to think that by giving some solids it may satisfy him for longer and therefore sleep for longer. Giving solids too early rarely helps these problems and may lead to other difficulties. These include:
So if he is going through a hungrier spell, instead of reaching for the solids, provide extra milk feeds.
Yes, there are a number of reasons why delaying the introduction for too long can be potentially disadvantageous.
Nutrient-filled spoonfuls of flavor! As he approaches 6 to 7 months his nutritional demands to support and optimize healthy growth and development are high, and are no longer able to be met by his milk feeds . However, his tummy is still very small so it is important not to fill it up with nutritionally ‘empty’ foods. Most of us interpret malnutrition to be ‘not enough food’ and a Third-World problem. But malnutrition is rife right here in our ‘land of plenty,’ as children are not ingesting food with the best nutrients. Even at a healthy weight (and indeed overweight), an individual can suffer from malnutrition if their diet is limited to a select handful of foods, or the wrong foods (often at the expense of nutrient-dense foods  and milk feeds). It is therefore important to consider all his nutritional needs, now and going forward, not only in terms of flavor, but also composition.
Breast milk or infant formula remains the most important nutrient source for the first year of life, and complementary foods must not be given in amounts that will dramatically reduce milk intake. This can be achieved by giving a milk feed before giving solid foods, which are then used as a ‘top-up’ at the end of the meal. At around 8 to 9 months of age, complementary foods can be offered before the milk feed. Gradually, complementary foods displace milk feeds, but breast milk or infant formula should remain a prominent part of an infant’s diet until at least 12 months old.
When first introducing him to solid foods, it is important to choose a time in the day  that is free of stress, when he is well-rested, and not overly hungry. When starting out, this is most likely not going to fall at regular meal times in the day. All babies are different so listen to their cues  and follow your gut instinct.
A feeding schedule may look like this:
Snacks really don’t have a place in the first year of life and here’s why: The evolution of snacks is to provide a quick easy solution to fill a gap before the next mealtime. Many snack options tend to be something to grab on the go, and are often highly processed (the obvious exception being fruit). One snack as a stop-gap measure can quickly turn into two, and before you know it, the demands for favourite snacks start encroaching and undoing all the hard work to develop preferences for healthy wholefoods. 
Establishing and maintaining a nutritious eating regime in the first year of life is imperative. Three meals a day, plus milk feeds as top-ups in between, leaves very little room in their tiny tummies for nutrient-empty fillers. The second reason for reaching for a snack food is generally to comfort, clam, or distract him in times of stress. Now, there is no harm in this if it’s once in a while. The problem begins if every time he is upset he is rewarded with a snack, he will quickly start to associate food with emotions rather than appetite. Ever wondered where the term ‘emotional eating’ comes from? Bingo! So before you reach for the cracker packet, stop and think if he is genuinely hungry and/or how else you might be able to give comfort.
You only need to look around the world to see the wide variety of foods infants learn to eat as a normal part of the family diet. The difference between children who eat hot spicy foods and those who are happy to eat sour or bitter foods is repetitive exposure throughout the first 1000 days. Therefore, if you have traditional cultural foods that your family commonly eats, early repetitive exposure is the key. However, it’s important all that family foods fall within the nutrient guidelines  of low in sugar, salt, and saturated fats, and that you have no concerns with allergies  before introducing them.
Nutrient-dense foods are high in nutrients. This is not to be confused with energy dense, which is high in calories, usually at the expense of nutrition. Essentially, nutrient-dense foods have as many nutrients as possible squeezed into them. This is important because an infant’s intake at the initial stages of starting solids is so small, and their nutritional requirements are so high.  A diet high in watery cereals and fruit purees will not sustain the nutritional demands of a growing infant and do nothing to support the development of healthy eating preferences. The World Health Organization recommends a complementary weaning diet consisting of meat, poultry, fish or eggs, along with a wide variety of vegetables, on a daily basis. 
All babies are born with enough iron stores, passed on from their mother, to sustain them for approximately 6 months, by which time the iron requirements can no longer be met by milk alone. (Premature and low birth-weight babies are a little different so it pays to check with your paediatrician. [45, 57, 72, 80] In fact, a 6 to 8-month-old infant requires 9 times as much iron and 4 times as much zinc, per 100g of bodyweight, as an adult male! Iron is essential to optimize brain growth, and the development of a strong immune system. However, not all iron sources are created equal.
Therefore, incorporating meat products into your baby’s diet will be hugely beneficial in terms of meeting his iron requirements.  The World Health Organization recommends the inclusion of meat, poultry, fish, or eggs eaten daily, or as often as possible.  Now, this is not to say a vegetarian diet can’t be healthy, it will just take a lot more work to ensure all his nutritional requirements are met. It is strongly advised you consult a pediatric nutritionist if you decide to go down this route.
Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs are all excellent sources of protein. Milk and milk products as well as pulses, legumes, and soy are also good sources of protein, however, milk should not be introduced as a drink before one year as this can interfere with iron uptake, and/or take the place of more nutrient-dense milk options (breast milk or formula, which is specifically manufactured to deliver nutrient needs). It is OK to use small amounts of full-fat milk in food preparation. Caution must also be applied when relying too heavily on pulses and legumes to meet protein needs. They are high in fiber, which is a good thing, but too much fiber can irritate an immature gut and provide too much bulk, limiting tiny tummies to other, more nutrient-dense  options.
Starchy vegetables (pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, yams) are all excellent sources of carbohydrates. So too are the rest of the vegetable family as well as fruit. However, we know that fruit, although natural, can have a high sugar content (sugar is a carbohydrate in its simplest form) and so needs to be given in moderation as part of a healthy diet. When his gut is mature enough , further good sources of carbohydrates are wholegrain cereals, pasta, and rice.
All babies are different so there certainly is no ‘one size fits all’ on portion sizes. In the beginning, most of his nutrition will be coming from milk, so it is far more important to concentrate on the quality, not the quantity, [5, 9] the development of taste preferences , and the overall sensory experience.
Start by offering 1 to 2 teaspoons of first foods after a breast or infant formula feed. Slowly increase this to 2 to 3 tablespoons. Start offering complementary foods once a day and, as they get accustomed to it, slowly build up to 3 times a day . Offer more food as your baby grows. As a rough guide:
It is important to listen to your baby and take his cue on this. Responsive feeding  is allowing him to eat only as much as he wants to satisfy hunger.
Infant self-regulation through responsive feeding  is another important learnt behaviour. A well-meaning caregiver’s natural instinct to ensure their child has had enough to eat can override satiety cues, in turn leading to over-consumption and obesity risk. [17, 31] It is important caregivers can recognize the signs of satiety and foster the early entrainment of appetite control. Some signs that he may be full are:
Infants and toddlers rely entirely on their caregivers to teach them what, when, and how to eat. Healthy feeding practices foster responsive parenting , which in turn lay down the foundations for long-term healthy eating habits and behaviours.
Yes! Red meat in particular is an excellent source of iron [24, 73] which is easily absorbed, and recommended by the World Health Organization to be eaten on a regular basis.  Meat also provides important sources of dietary fat, B vitamins, and zinc.
We encourage a vegetables-first approach , then fruit and sweeter vegetables can also be introduced. Variation is the key to extend your baby’s palate to a wider range of taste experiences. Even though fruits are deemed as healthy and should be included in our diet, most still contain high amounts of sugar, in the form of fructose. It may be considered ‘healthier’ than highly refined sources, but at the end of the day, sweet is sweet, regardless of its source! Evolution has primed us with an innate preference for sweet, however, research has shown we can train healthy eating preferences toward a range of flavor profiles, including bitter and sour.  We just need to provide our children with plenty of opportunities to do so. [20, 21]
So, vegetables first, vegetables in repetition, and vegetables in a wide variety, with small amounts of fruit dispersed throughout. While it’s easy to offer the familiar banana and apple, try to also include sour fruits such as tart plums and tart apples.
Generally, by 5 to 6 months reflux starts to improve as the gastrointestinal tract starts to mature. Sometimes, starting him on solids can actually help with reflux. However, to start off with you might want to avoid highly acidic foods such as citrus and tomato. Here are some more tips for a baby prone to reflux:
Today, few pediatricians recommend that parents start with infant cereal. Dr. Frank Greer, former chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), encourages parents to stay away from infant cereals. Here’s why:
Healthy fats are an essential part of a healthy diet for babies. In fact, 40 to 50% of their energy intake should be coming from a good source.68 Fats are needed to support optimal brain development, build strong immune systems, and to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). Healthy sources include red meat, chicken, fish (especially oily species such as salmon), avocado, olive/coconut oil, bone broth, and cheese (from 8 months). Fat also provides an important function with the mouth feel, texture, and flavor of food, reinforcing the positive messaging with these foods.
Milk (breast or formula) should remain the number one source of fluids through to your baby’s first birthday. However, you can offer a little water in a sippy cup when starting solids, provided that it does not displace the regular milk feeds he is receiving. Babies can get dehydrated quickly so having a sippy cup on hand is a great habit to get into. Drinking water is also a habit babies should develop, not to mention children and adults alike.
Some straining during pooping is OK. However, if coupled with the following symptoms, it might pay to have it checked out with your pediatrician.
In order for him to be able to digest cereals and grains he needs to make use of enzymes he produces to break these down to release nutrients. However, the particular enzyme he requires, pancreatic amylase, is not produced until the second half of his first year (6 to 12 months). Although there will be no drastic effect (in most children) in introducing grains before this enzyme is present, it will mean that the nutrients from the grains may not be well absorbed. Undigested product can also begin to irritate an immature digestive system, effecting the balance of bacteria and microbiota . Therefore, the general consensus is to wait until at least 6 months before incorporating small amounts of cereals/grains, preferably wholegrain, [87, 89] into his diet. It is also important to offer a nutritionally dense  diet of varied flavors and textures to train healthy eating habits , and to limit highly refined and processed foods .
All FAQ [numbers] relate to our references and sources, click here to view.
Disclaimer: The information provided is the opinion of Good Feeding, it has not been evaluated by healthcare professionals, and is for educational purposes only. Before starting any new foods or feeding practices, please consult your baby's healthcare professional.