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]
Establishing healthy eating habits is a learned behavior, just like learning to read. We don’t just pick up a book and instantly know how to make sense of the symbols on the page. We start with letters, then words, and then eventually string them together to form sentences. It’s the same with eating. Start with natural foods, encourage plenty of practice and repetition, offer variety and complexity, and the result is a healthy equation of vegetables, whole grains and fruit, and habits and preferences that are with us for life [30, 50, 58, 60, 70].
Research has shown that by the time baby 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.
Both breast milk and formula are predominantly sweet. Through evolution, we are all born with an innate preference for sweet (high calories, safe to eat) and salty (minerals) and a natural aversion for bitter foods (poisonous) [16, 23, 27, 30, 69]. Couple that with an environment laden with convenience options, often high in sugar and low in essential nutrients, targeted at infants and toddlers,  it is little wonder children aren’t growing up reaching for the veggie draw.
We know that babies are born with an ingrained preference for sweet and salty. However, the start of complementary feeding is a very sensitive and malleable period in an infant’s development. With the right exposure and experiences to a wide variety of healthy foods, he can and will develop lifelong healthy food preferences. Unfortunately, this also means that if an infant’s first exposures are limited to sugary processed foods, these can also enhance a lifelong preference to these foods. It is therefore important for caregivers to capitalize on this window of opportunity to introduce a wide variety of healthy nutritious foods and build healthy preferences. [4, 11, 14, 42, 50, 86] A spoonful is all that is required as this is about exposure to different tastes, not nutrition or to satisfy hunger (that is the role of milk in this early phase). [5, 13] The focus is very much on taste experiences and building the foundations for healthy preferences.
It is also a huge advantage that by the time that solids do play an important role for nutritional requirements  (somewhere between 6 and 7 months), he has a good grasp and preference for these foods. If all he has been exposed to up until this point is sweet fruit and infant cereal you are more likely going to struggle to transition to healthier, more nutrient-dense alternatives.
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.
Veggies, veggies, veggies, flavor, flavor, flavor! A baby’s first foods are not about nutrition, but rather, the experience and the exposure. In fact, how much a baby ingests in these very early stages are, more often than not, not very much at all! For the first 2, 5, or 15 times, it might be at most a teaspoon or two. All babies are different and all progress at different rates so it is important to listen to them and progress when they are ready (also known as responsive feeding) . Remember, all his nutrition is coming from milk right now, so use this opportunity to build on a range of flavor exposures and experiences. Experiment and have fun and you just might be surprised! It might take several times for him to accept a new flavor, that’s normal.
Repetition (a spoonful or two is all that is required) and persistence is the key to building acceptance and preference. [5, 9, 91] The good news is, studies have shown that this persistence pays off. Exposure to a wide variety of minimally processed vegetables, spanning right across the flavor profiles, in their single form (i.e. not mixed with a sweet puree), on multiple occasions, can dramatically increase his chances of solidifying healthy preferences for life. [2, 3, 7, 10, 19, 21, 32, 45, 51] Unfortunately, this can go both ways. If his dietary exposures are predominantly over-processed (infant cereal), sweet (the use of fruit and sweet vegetables to mask savoury or bitter flavors), or salty (as are most savory snacks), it is likely these will be the preferences he will take with him into the future. So, veggies in their single form first, veggies in variety, and veggies in repetition.
A common way to get vegetables into children is to ‘hide’ them in something they do like, e.g. mixing broccoli in with his favourite carrot. However, although this delivers the benefits of consuming tricky vegetables, it does nothing for learning to like, eat, and develop preferences for these vegetables in the future. Children can learn  to like a wide variety of flavors and textures and the only way they can do this is by being exposed to them on a regular basis. [6, 27, 31] This means carrot is carrot and broccoli is broccoli. Remember, a taste is all that is required. 
Even if he has been accepting of solids, there will be days he just might not want anything to do with it. Just putting him in the high chair might be enough to upset him. That’s OK. The most important thing to keep in mind is to not make a fuss , and try again later in the day or tomorrow. You may want to try feeding him cradled in your lap. Remember, for the last 6 months his comfort has been in your arms for milk feeds. For some reason, on this particular day his emotional world  maybe a little unstable and just may require this added comfort and closeness.
Initially, until he gets the hang of it, he will only need one ‘meal’ a day. Mid to late morning or mid-afternoon are often good times to start. The morning milk feed is often his biggest feed of the day, so we don’t want to compromise this. Try and feed him roughly an hour after the first morning feed. This will give him time to process the milk, but be content enough to try a new experience. He has not yet made the connection that solid foods will satisfy hunger so he will be less accepting of solids if he is frantically hungry.
It is important to make an infant’s introduction and first experiences surrounding food an enjoyable experience, so choose a time that is free of stress for both you and baby.
Remember, eating is a sensory experience, so when it suits, sit him up to the family table at mealtimes. He will feel included and be more likely try new foods if he sees the family eat them. 
We are all born with an innate preference for sweet foods and a dislike for bitter. However, we all know that vegetables are nutrient powerhouses and as a nation, we don’t eat enough of them. What if there was a way to not only get children to eat them, but want to eat them ? Well, there is! [19, 51] Numerous studies have indicated that the beginning of introducing solid foods is a very sensitive time in terms of learning and processing. If we capitalize on this window of opportunity [5, 45] it is possible to train preferences for a wide range of flavor profiles, including bitter and sour. Offering small tastes of a wide variety of vegetables, in their single form not masked with a sweet puree , on multiple occasions, helps to promote willingness and acceptance of new foods beyond infancy and into childhood/adulthood. [10, 11] A spoonful is all that is required  as this is about exposure to different tastes, not nutrition or satisfying hunger. The focus is very much on taste experiences and building the foundations for healthy preferences. [3, 14, 15, 21, 32]
Although infants can’t verbally tell us when they are hungry or full, they do tell us in nonverbal ways. Responsive feeding is when caregivers acknowledge and respond to these cues in ways that will foster and reinforce healthy eating habits. [30, 49, 71] Failure to do so can lead to overconsumption, poor appetite control/regulation, emotional eating, and result in an increased obesity risk.  It is not OK to say “just two more mouthfuls” or “finish this before you can get down” or “I know you’re not hungry but have this anyway.” Forcing your baby to eat will create an unpleasant environment, cause elevated anxiety (for both you and him), and may lead to food phobias or not wanting to eat at all.
Responsive feeding is crucial for supporting babies and children in developing appetite regulation and form the basis for healthy feeding practices .
Signs of hunger at 6 to 12 months old:
Signs baby has had enough:
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.
The traditional method of transitioning babies onto solid foods is to offer smooth purees on a spoon, gradually moving to thicker and then textured purees. However, more recently, baby-led weaning (BLW) has taken favour. A BLW approach is to introduce or offer foods in their intact form, instead of pureeing, and allow the baby to feed himself. By offering only finger foods, in appropriate sizes, e.g. cooked vegetables, meat, and soft fruits, parents allow their babies to choose and be directed as to what they do and do not want to eat. This helps to engage all the senses while eating, and develops key motor skills and the muscles involved with chewing. It can mean the foods are more nutritious, if the alternatives are poor-quality, watery puree. However, it is one thing to offer highly nutritious foods, but it is a different matter if they are not consumed.
We know that by 6 months, an infant’s requirements for iron in order to optimize growth and development  increase considerably. Iron-rich sources include red meats  but they are generally more difficult to consume as a finger food in the early phases. The variety of vegetables can also be somewhat limited to consume in a safe way. Peas, for example, pose a choking risk  if not mashed and green leafy vegetables are difficult to process without adequate motor skills. And when healthy alternatives are not on hand, it is easier to turn to processed, prepackaged foods such as bread, rusks, or biscuits. 
A great compromise is to provide a highly nutritious puree, alongside some appropriate finger food. Thus, allowing autonomy and a sensory experience, while ensuring the exposure and consumption of a wide variety of flavors, textures, and nutrition. Regardless of feeding method, a responsive-feeding approach  is paramount.
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:
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.
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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.