Age to start babies on 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
How to teach your baby to chew: teaching your baby to chew solid food
- When to introduce the first complementary foods
- How to tell if your baby is ready for solid food
- Infant diet
- Common mistakes in complementary foods
- Prohibited products
- What to do if the child cannot eat hard pieces
- Meal Game
When a small child appears in the family, parents face a difficult task: not only to raise and educate, but also to instill in the baby all the necessary skills. For example, young parents are often concerned about the question of how to teach a child to chew. We have collected tips for you from well-known Russian and foreign pediatricians who will help you find the best solution.
What are the difficulties
For adults, the process of chewing food seems to be something completely natural. But the child has only a sucking reflex, and even liquid puree becomes an unusual and unfamiliar food for him. In addition, other reflex reactions are characteristic of the same period, due to which solid pieces of food that have fallen into the mouth are rejected. They weaken by 4 months, but it is not necessary to wean a child at this age: mother's milk "adjusts" to the needs of the baby, its composition changes over time.
When to introduce the first complementary foods
It was at this time - in the period from 4-6 months. Depending on various factors, it can be a monocomponent vegetable puree or dairy-free porridge from a single cereal. It is worth considering the weight, height, state of the digestive system and other features of the child's health.
This is important!
Any new food should be given gradually, with caution: start with one teaspoon and supplement with mother's milk or formula. During the feeding period, you need to carefully monitor the condition of the child and possible allergic reactions.
How to tell if a baby is ready for solid food
As a rule, the baby himself makes it clear that he is interested in updating his diet. This can be seen from his behavior:
- Stops sucking food from a spoon by removing it with his lips
- Tries to chew
- Interested in "adult" food
- Pulls hard objects into mouth
- Opens mouth wide during feeding
This usually happens no earlier than 6-8 months - that's when you can start giving your child cereals and other foods with small dense particles.
How to choose a diet for young children
- At 6-7 months, tiny particles up to 0.3 mm are acceptable. Grated vegetables are ideal
- At 8-9 months, food with particles up to 1.5 mm can be added to the diet. These can be cereal flakes in the composition of cereals, tiny pieces of well-cooked vegetables
- At 9-12 months, the baby can already chew food with pieces up to 3 mm.
- At 1 year of age and beyond, the child should be taught to chew solid food independently
Young parents may involuntarily make mistakes. This is normal and should not cause panic: the first child is always difficult. If the baby refuses solid food, there are several reasons.
Solids too large . The child has a protective reflex, due to which he often spits out food. And if the piece is very large, the baby may begin to vomit.
Complementary foods were introduced very late . Some "specialists" and "experienced relatives" convince young mothers that they need to breastfeed their baby for up to a year, without giving him any other food. The kid gets used to such food, and the chewing reflex is not formed in him. You should not be afraid, it is difficult, but you can fix it.
The child does not like the taste . Yes, he is already an independent person who has his own preferences. So the baby can easily eat broccoli and refuse a baked pear. Or vice versa. You should not forcefully stuff the child with what he does not like, or force him to finish eating the entire portion.
Negative associations . Some psychologists believe that the refusal to eat from a spoon may be due to the fact that the child associates food with medicine (manifested in cases where the baby was given tasteless potions).
Too many new products . Don't try to include a wide variety of foods in your diet. As Ellyn Satter writes in Feeding and Feeding Your Child with Love and Common Sense, it's best to add "scary and unfamiliar" foods to what your child already loves, and in very small portions.
The child is fed like an adult . Larisa Surkova writes in the book “How cool it is with a child from 1 to 3 years old: a generator of useful tips”, you should not deny your baby tactile sensations. If he wants to crush food, sniff, smear on the table - let him do it. In the end, the table can be covered with oilcloth (and the floor, by the way, too).
To avoid food allergies and digestive problems, a child under the age of four should never be given:
- lollipops, caramel, toffee
- nuts and any seeds
- tough cuts of meat
- whole grapes
- Large pieces of hard vegetables and fruits
What to do if the child cannot eat hard pieces
In some cases, even a one-year-old baby cannot chew food and constantly chokes on small pieces. This means that the chewing reflex is not fully formed, and parents will have to act very delicately:
- Prepare thick creamy soups and purees for your child, but leave a few tiny pieces of boiled vegetables while blending
- Later vegetables can be chopped with a fork, the pieces will become larger, but not hard enough for a child to choke
- Foods that your child likes will help you achieve the best results. These can be baked apples and pears, bananas, baby cookies
- Food should be made not only tasty, but also beautiful so that it attracts the baby
If, in the process of learning, the child continues to choke and is not able to swallow solid food, this is an occasion to consult a doctor who will find the cause of the problem.
The child needs to be interested. A game plot for eating is an absolute norm. In the process, the baby can be told an interesting story in which he will be involved. The well-known “airplane” flying to the “hangar” is a real way to feed a child without nerves and tantrums. However, it is important to understand that if the baby began to turn away, it means that he has already eaten. It is not necessary to supplement it with the remnants of mashed potatoes, even if it is the only spoon. Teaching a baby to eat “adult”, solid food is a really difficult task that requires attention and patience from parents. Remember that you are helping your child develop one of the most important skills! On this path, you need to become an ally to the baby. Forced feeding will cause rejection. It is simply impossible to educate by stuffing tasteless mashed potatoes or forcing them to finish eating porridge when the child is already full.
(16 ratings; article rating 2.6)
how and when to introduce a child to solid foodSolid food: how and when to introduce a child to solid food
Expecting new skills from the baby, do not rush things. It is necessary to acquaint the child with solid food no earlier than 6-7 months. At this time, the desire to scratch the gums, ready for the appearance of the first teeth, will coincide with the interest in adult food.
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Children are born with a vital, unconditioned reflex - sucking. They are ready to suck on their mother's breasts, but all solid objects that have fallen into their mouths are automatically pushed out so as not to choke (a protective reflex is triggered). Therefore, parents are not recommended to accustom the baby to solid foods too early. This will cause not only rejection, but sometimes vomiting. The ideal time is considered to be the start of complementary foods. When the first teeth begin to grow in the child, you can replace the homogenized puree with food with the addition of soft fibers. They will be to the taste of the baby, as they will massage itchy gums. An important clue for parents is also the child's interest in adult food. If the baby looks into your plate, tries not to suck on mashed potatoes in a spoon, but to remove it with his upper lip and chew - it's time to introduce more solid food into the children's menu. First, at the tip of the spoon, offer the baby vegetable and cereal side dishes, closer to 9months you can give pieces of well-boiled meat. The kid does not immediately learn to chew them, and the food will come out with a stool almost in its original form. It's not scary, over time the child will learn everything. It is important not to ignore his desire, you will have to pay for the pedagogical miscalculation and literally teach the child to chew.#PROMO_BLOCK#
Of course, not everything can go according to plan. The most common reasons why a child refuses solid food:
The pieces of food are too big.
You are using the wrong feeding technique.
The spoon is big for a child.
The child has unpleasant associations - perhaps you gave him medicine from this spoon. Do not use everyday baby utensils for unpleasant procedures.
The child is in a bad mood or does not feel well.
In no case do not force the baby to eat if he refuses. Gently try again and again. Set an example - eat the first spoon yourself, showing the crumbs how tasty his food is. If the child still cannot cope with solid food, it is worth contacting a pediatric osteopath. The baby may have a non-standard structure of the maxillofacial system, subluxation of the jaw associated with birth trauma, problems with muscle tone. The timely introduction of solid food is very important not only for the full nutrition of the child, it affects his future speech activity. Breastfeeding is a good prevention of speech therapy problems. In order to suck milk from the breast, the child needs to make more efforts than when feeding from a bottle - this is a good (and what is valuable - natural) training of the jaws and muscles of the tongue, and it must be continued by introducing the crumbs to solid food in time. Of course, a baby with a piece of an apple in his hands (and in his mouth) must be looked after so that he does not choke. By the way, for the development of the chewing and speech apparatus, it is useful to grimace with the baby during the game - this strengthens the facial muscles well.
Medical Institute. Pavlova, specialization - pediatrics
Author: Reetta Tikanmäki
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Breast milk is the best food for a newborn baby. It contains all the necessary nutritional components that fully meet the needs of the child and are necessary for his healthy and harmonious development.
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