Age to feed baby solid food
When, What, and How to Introduce Solid Foods | Nutrition
For more information about how to know if your baby is ready to starting eating foods, what first foods to offer, and what to expect, watch these videos from 1,000 Days.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend children be introduced to foods other than breast milk or infant formula when they are about 6 months old. Introducing foods before 4 months old is not recommended. Every child is different. How do you know if your child is ready for foods other than breast milk or infant formula? You can look for these signs that your child is developmentally ready.
- Sits up alone or with support.
- Is able to control head and neck.
- Opens the mouth when food is offered.
- Swallows food rather than pushes it back out onto the chin.
- Brings objects to the mouth.
- Tries to grasp small objects, such as toys or food.
- Transfers food from the front to the back of the tongue to swallow.
What Foods Should I Introduce to My Child First?
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that for most children, you do not need to give foods in a certain order. Your child can begin eating solid foods at about 6 months old. By the time he or she is 7 or 8 months old, your child can eat a variety of foods from different food groups. These foods include infant cereals, meat or other proteins, fruits, vegetables, grains, yogurts and cheeses, and more.
If your child is eating infant cereals, it is important to offer a variety of fortifiedalert icon infant cereals such as oat, barley, and multi-grain instead of only rice cereal. Only providing infant rice cereal is not recommended by the Food and Drug Administration because there is a risk for children to be exposed to arsenic. Visit the U.S. Food & Drug Administrationexternal icon to learn more.
How Should I Introduce My Child to Foods?
Your child needs certain vitamins and minerals to grow healthy and strong.
Now that your child is starting to eat food, be sure to choose foods that give your child all the vitamins and minerals they need.
Click here to learn more about some of these vitamins & minerals.
Let your child try one single-ingredient food at a time at first. This helps you see if your child has any problems with that food, such as food allergies. Wait 3 to 5 days between each new food. Before you know it, your child will be on his or her way to eating and enjoying lots of new foods.
Introduce potentially allergenic foods when other foods are introduced.
Potentially allergenic foods include cow’s milk products, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, and sesame. Drinking cow’s milk or fortified soy beverages is not recommended until your child is older than 12 months, but other cow’s milk products, such as yogurt, can be introduced before 12 months. If your child has severe eczema and/or egg allergy, talk with your child’s doctor or nurse about when and how to safely introduce foods with peanuts.
How Should I Prepare Food for My Child to Eat?
At first, it’s easier for your child to eat foods that are mashed, pureed, or strained and very smooth in texture. It can take time for your child to adjust to new food textures. Your child might cough, gag, or spit up. As your baby’s oral skills develop, thicker and lumpier foods can be introduced.
Some foods are potential choking hazards, so it is important to feed your child foods that are the right texture for his or her development. To help prevent choking, prepare foods that can be easily dissolved with saliva and do not require chewing. Feed small portions and encourage your baby to eat slowly. Always watch your child while he or she is eating.
Here are some tips for preparing foods:
- Mix cereals and mashed cooked grains with breast milk, formula, or water to make it smooth and easy for your baby to swallow.
- Mash or puree vegetables, fruits and other foods until they are smooth.
- Hard fruits and vegetables, like apples and carrots, usually need to be cooked so they can be easily mashed or pureed.
- Cook food until it is soft enough to easily mash with a fork.
- Remove all fat, skin, and bones from poultry, meat, and fish, before cooking.
- Remove seeds and hard pits from fruit, and then cut the fruit into small pieces.
- Cut soft food into small pieces or thin slices.
- Cut cylindrical foods like hot dogs, sausage and string cheese into short thin strips instead of round pieces that could get stuck in the airway.
- Cut small spherical foods like grapes, cherries, berries and tomatoes into small pieces.
- Cook and finely grind or mash whole-grain kernels of wheat, barley, rice, and other grains.
Learn more about potential choking hazards and how to prevent your child from choking.
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When Can My Baby Start Eating Solid Foods? (for Parents)
A friend just started giving her 3-month-old applesauce and rice cereal. My son is just 2 weeks younger than hers, and I am wondering if I should be introducing solids soon too. When should I start?
Doctors recommend waiting until a baby is about 6 months old to start solid foods. Starting before 4 months is not recommended.
At about 6 months, babies need the added nutrition — such as iron and zinc — that solid foods provide. It’s also the right time to introduce your infant to new tastes and textures.
Some babies may be ready for solids sooner than 6 months, but don't start until your baby is at least 4 months old.
How do you know it’s the right time to start solid foods? Here are some signs that babies are ready:
- They have good head and neck control and sit up in a high chair.
- They're interested in foods. For example, they may watch others eat, reach for food, and open their mouths when food approaches.
- They don’t push food out of their mouths, which is a natural tongue reflex that disappears when they’re between 4–6 months old.
- They weigh twice their birth weight, or close to it.
Talk to your doctor about the right time to start solid foods.
How Should I Start Solids?
When the time is right, you can start with a single-grain, iron-fortified baby cereal. Start with 1 or 2 tablespoons of cereal mixed with breast milk, formula, or water. Feed your baby with a small baby spoon. Don’t add cereal or other food to a baby's bottle because it can lead to too much weight gain. Let your baby practice eating from a spoon and learn to stop when full.
When your baby gets the hang of eating the first food, introduce others, such as puréed meat, fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, or yogurt. Try one food at a time and wait a few days before trying something else new to make sure your baby doesn't have an allergic reaction.
Foods that are more likely to cause allergies can be among the foods you introduce to your baby. These include peanuts, eggs, cow’s milk, seafood, nuts, wheat, and soy. Waiting to start these foods does not prevent food allergies. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about food allergies, especially if any close family members have allergies, food allergies, or allergy-related conditions, like eczema or asthma.
Infants with severe eczema or egg allergies are more likely to have allergies to peanuts. Talk to your doctor about how and when to introduce these foods to your child.
When starting your baby on solids, avoid:
- foods with added sugars and no-calorie sweeteners
- high-sodium foods
- honey, until after the first birthday. It can cause botulism in babies.
- unpasteurized juice, milk, yogurt, or cheese
- regular cow's milk or soy drinks before 12 months instead of breast milk or formula. It’s OK to offer pasteurized yogurt and cheese.
- foods that may cause choking, such as hot dogs, raw carrots, grapes, popcorn, and nuts
Also, do not give fruit juices to infants younger than 12 months old.
Over the next few months, introduce a variety of foods from all the food groups. If your baby doesn't seem to like something, don’t give up. It can take 8 to 10 tries or more before babies learn to like new foods.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: February 2021
When to introduce pieces in complementary foods?
The article was written with the help of nutritionist Victoria Vishnyakova.
You need to take the transition from puree to chunks seriously, as this step is very important.
Such food is called in English-speaking countries “finger foods” translated into Russian as “finger food”. Toddlers take pieces with their fingers, bring them to their mouths, knead them with their gums and swallow.
At the same time, several systems are included in the work at once:
- The brain needs to coordinate the actions of the hands, mouth and jaw
- Mouth, tongue, jaw muscles are being trained
- Gastrointestinal tract adapts to digest food other than solids, not just purees and liquids.
You should know that, as in other stages of the development of the baby, the pieces also need to be introduced into the “window of opportunity” - this is the period during which skills are mastered easily and naturally. In cases where such a moment was missed, much more effort has to be applied.
Based on modern recommendations, lumpy food should be offered from about six months, that is, almost immediately with the start of complementary foods. The deadline is about 9-10 months. – later the “window” will be closed.
You can start complementary foods not with mashed potatoes, but knead boiled vegetables with a fork, after a while you will not need to do this too carefully. Thus, the consistent addition of lumpy food to the child's diet will begin.
When you start complementary foods with mashed potatoes, then after a while offer pieces first of all, and if suddenly the baby gets tired, give mashed potatoes.
You can not mix puree with pieces! Toddlers do not expect that a solid object may be caught in their usual food - they will begin to "suck" it and may choke. As a result, there is a possibility that there will be a fear of food and even a temporary refusal of complementary foods.
Lumpy food should be soft so that children can knead it with their fingers. If the piece is hard, then it can be dangerous, since the child will not be able to chew it, but it is easy to choke on it.
There is no need to be afraid to give food in the form of pieces with the start of complementary foods. Offer your food by simply kneading it with a fork - this is normal, but only if your diet does not contain foods that are undesirable or dangerous for the baby (we wrote about this in another article).
Children can keep a piece in their mouth for a long time, and then spit it out - it's okay. Thus, they acquire many different skills, not forgetting to satisfy their hunger. Do not worry, put a plate, take your time - the child can crush, smear, spit, and eat what is needed.
Most importantly, do not leave children alone during this process, because there is a risk of choking. At a time when the baby smears food on his hands and plate, you will have time to eat your food warm.
Have a good appetite everyone!
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Acquaintance of a baby with solid food: How to teach a baby to chew - Parents.ru
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Pediatrician at the Children's Medical Center "Human Health"
When to start introducing solid foods
It is generally accepted that most babies are ready to be introduced to food in pieces at 6-8 months. In fact, age in the development of chewing skills is not the main thing. The baby should be ready for the introduction of solid foods both physically (to be able to actively work with the tongue and press it correctly against the palate) and psychologically: food interest should “wake up”, the desire to look into the parent’s plate and try what adults eat.
“The appearance of the first chewing movements occurs at 4–5 months, at the same time the gag reflex moves from the middle to the back third of the tongue,” says pediatrician Yulia Rakhimbekova. - And if during this period you do not introduce complementary foods, but continue to stimulate only the sucking reflex, then the chewing reflex that is not supported by practice will begin to fade. A few years ago, the baby, before the appearance of the first milk teeth, received drying, crackers or even a chicken bone from his mother and learned to “chew” with his gums. Today, parents often introduce complementary foods after 6 months and later, when 2-4 front teeth have already appeared in the mouth. But these teeth are used for biting, it is impossible to chew them, and - what is important! - they prevent the baby from chewing with their gums. This is how the moment is lost. Further, normally at the age of 7-12 months, the child continues to strengthen the skills of biting and chewing, developing lateral movements of the tongue and the ability to move food to the teeth with the tongue. He is already able to eat cereals, chopped fruits and vegetables. Of course, everything is individual. Full-term or premature, healthy or with health problems, have teeth or have not yet appeared - one way or another, by the year the baby should produce high-quality chewing movements with the jaws. But this will only happen if the parents gradually taught him this. It does not happen that a child is fed only with breast milk, but at the age of one he sat down at the table, took a spoon and began to eat busily from the common table.
If the baby is over two years old, and he is accustomed to pureed food, chews reluctantly or does not know how to chew at all, please be patient: to catch up you will need time - from a month to six months.
Why you need to learn to chew before the age of
The ability to chew solid food is absolutely necessary for a child:
for strong teeth
The inability and unwillingness of the baby to chew solid pieces of food leads to a violation of the formation of bite, and subsequently - the oval of the face. Milk teeth are not sufficiently stressed and may fall out prematurely.
The use of products mainly in a puree-like state negatively affects the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract: it provokes the appearance of allergies, intestinal disorders, bloating, and constipation. Since the food that you just need to swallow does not mix well with saliva, the baby's digestive enzymes are poorly produced. The gastrointestinal tract becomes "lazy", receiving only tender food, which is no longer for the child's age. As a result, problems grow like a snowball: underdevelopment of the enzyme apparatus, excess weight, increased sensitivity of the intestine.
“The inability to chew is not the direct cause of speech delay or lack thereof,” says speech therapist Tamara Novikova. “At the same time, this is an indicator of negative changes in articulatory tone. It is likely that the child will be uncomfortable, uncomfortable pronouncing some sounds, because this also requires efforts.
“Until the age of 1.5, we ate only pureed food, as we choked on pieces. It didn’t bother me at all: 15 seconds in a blender - and you’re done. To be honest, it was even more convenient for me, because it was faster and easier to feed. Only now he refuses to eat meat ”- a similar story can be found on any parent forum. Many mothers feel sorry for their babies (and themselves) by giving them pureed food. But the age of 1–2 years is quite dangerous in terms of manipulating a child with parental opinion. Make every effort to ensure that the little one cannot blackmail you with his unwillingness to chew and swallow hard pieces, because in the future this can turn into much more problems.
Food "pieces" should appear in the children's diet no later than the first tooth erupts. The ability to chew well is the key to healthy teeth and clear articulation.
Why a baby refuses to chew
- Getty Images/Westend61/Sebastian Rothe
Situations when the baby refuses to chew happen quite often. Why is this happening?
Too early or abrupt change in food consistency
Do not immediately switch from homogeneous puree to food in pieces: at first the baby may simply not understand that it is also edible, and the absence of "normal", from his point of view, food will make him nervous. The logical result of this is streams of tears and a tightly compressed mouth. Do not worry! Each baby has its own pace of development and maturation of body systems. If you have introduced solid foods according to all the rules, and the baby stubbornly refuses “solid” foods, consult a specialist (pediatrician, gastroenterologist, neurologist).
Disorders of articulatory tone
“The conditions in which a woman today carries and gives birth to a child are far from ideal,” explains speech therapist Tamara Novikova. - A large percentage of expectant mothers work to the last, exposing themselves to stress and hypoxia, drive a car, do not always give up bad habits - all this indirectly affects the development of dysarthria (impaired tone of the muscles of the speech apparatus) in the child in the future, because a weakened fetus is already forming in utero . What do we get next? A tongue that cannot turn food over in the mouth, poor functioning of the muscles that close, raise and lower the jaw, and an unwillingness to chew. Parents who give up breastfeeding too early also do a disservice to the baby. To get milk from the mother's breast, the baby needs to work hard - work his muscles. With a regular bottle, articulatory tone is much more difficult to develop. Nevertheless, all these difficulties can be overcome.
The baby may refuse to chew even if it is difficult for him to swallow. Trying to cope with solid food can cause him to cough and even vomit. Swallowing disorders may be associated with malfunctions of the gastrointestinal tract or other diseases: for example, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, stomatitis, inflammation of the oral cavity and larynx. “Possible problems that can interfere with high-quality chewing will definitely show up during the child’s medical examination,” pediatrician Yulia Rakhimbekova reassures. - Do not neglect the dispensary appointments of doctors. Up to a year, a child should visit the dentist twice, 4 times - at the neurologist, 3 times - at the surgeon. If necessary (for example, there is a suspicion of a short frenulum of the tongue), the baby can be referred for a consultation with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
How to introduce solid food to your baby
There is no special technique for teaching chewing, because everything should go on as usual. However, with the help of our tips, you will help your baby master this skill faster.
- Getty Images/Foodcollection
Organize a space. Think in advance where the baby will feel most comfortable: in a high chair or on your lap.
Pick a moment. It is important that the child is not too hungry - otherwise he will be nervous, and your efforts will go down the drain, but at the same time he wants to eat.
Prepare cutlery. Use a light plastic spoon with a rounded handle for feeding - then the baby can use it independently.
Consider your diet. “We usually advise mothers to offer their babies pieces of an apple or soft biscuits that they will bite into and thus learn to chew. An inquisitive kid will definitely agree to taste a new product, and at the same time understand why he needs his teeth, and practice chewing movements, says Yulia Rakhimbekova. “Any dish that you think is appropriate at the moment will do, considering whether it’s part of dinner, a snack between meals, or a dessert after a hearty meal.” When buying a jar of puree, be guided by the markings on the label: among the jars recommended for the age of 8-10 months, you will definitely find those that say "pieces that teach you to chew."
Take your time. Start small meals. If the baby refuses a new complementary food, do not insist. Make the consistency of the offered dishes thicker over time - thanks to this, the need to work with the jaws, lips, and tongue develops. If the dish is too thick, add some water or milk.
Take advantage of his curiosity. At 4-7 months, your baby will be persistently procrastinating in his mouth and trying to chew whatever you give him. Your job is to make sure it's safe. The main thing is to avoid sudden transitions in the diet: you should not give hard carrots if before that the baby ate only ground cereals and mashed potatoes.
Don't distract. Let the baby focus on the process of eating, then the actions of the hands, tongue and lips will be coordinated as much as possible.
Mom's helper: nibbler
Nibbler is a device reminiscent of the methods of our grandmothers, when some product (an apple or a lump of sugar) was wrapped in gauze and a child without danger to life could procrastinate it in his mouth for a long time. Nibbler promotes the taste of the product, activates salivation and trains chewing movements. The main thing is to monitor the integrity of the mesh and rinse it thoroughly after use.
How to overcome dislike for solid food
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“If parents delay the transition of the child to solid food, as a rule, problems begin,” says Yulia Rakhimbekova. - Even a two-year-old baby's eating behavior is already formed, it becomes very difficult to teach him to chew and just make him take something unusual in his mouth. The main advice in this case is not to rush, not to pressure and in no case starve (they say, nothing, get hungry - eat). The transition from pureed food to "pieces" should be gradual. Involve the child in cooking, chop the product together, first in a blender, using a meat grinder or grater, a little later with a fork. Remember that children are very fond of imitating, so be sure to practice “joint dining”, where you will chew food together with great pleasure.
What else can help you teach your little one to chew cheerfully and with appetite:
Lay out a “rainbow” on a plate, fold “houses”, “draw” animals from slices of boiled carrots, beans, broccoli and cauliflower, fresh cucumbers and tomatoes. If at first the baby does not chew very well, just feed him with the usual pureed food. Try to cut into pieces first of all the foods that he likes the most.
Add small-small pieces of soft fruits (for example, pears), boiled vegetables, berries (raspberries) to cereals and purees. Gradually increase the size and number of pieces in the dish.
Play. Take, for example, a piece of boiled carrot and depict a bunny: “How does a hare eat a carrot? Like this! Can you do that?"
Invite guests and also eat out - practice situations where it is simply not possible to grind food.