Babies with 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.

Your child:

  • 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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Helpful Resources | Nutrition | CDC

If you would like more information on topics related to feeding your baby or toddler, here are some resources:


CDC’s Infant and Toddler Nutrition microsite syndication
CDC offers a free Web Content Syndication service that gives public health partners the opportunity to syndicate CDC content directly to their sites without having to monitor or copy updates. To search the CDC infant and toddler nutrition website available for syndication as well as other resources you can share, visit the CDC Public Health Media Library and browse or search for “infant and toddler nutrition”. Learn more about content syndication and how to add CDC syndicated content on your site.

CDC’s Child and Teen Resources
This collection of resources provides parents and caregivers, health care providers, and partners with tools and information to help children and teens maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity.

CDC’s Child Development Positive Parenting Tips (Infants)
This CDC website provides information about infants’ development, as well as tips for positive parenting and promoting the safety and health of infants.

CDC’s Learn the Signs. Act Early.
This website includes tools to track children’s milestones and resources about children’s development.

CDC’s  Parent Information
This CDC website provides resources and information on pregnancy, infants and toddlers, children, and teens. Learn how to handle common parenting challenges through interactive activities, videos, and more. Healthcare professionals and researchers can also find information on children’s health and safety.

CDC’s Division of Oral Health
Tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood in the United States. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning. CDC’s Division of Oral Health provides information on what parents and caregivers can do to ensure good oral health for your child.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025 pdf icon[PDF-30.6MB]external icon
These guidelines provide science-based advice for Americans on what to eat and drink to promote health, reduce chronic disease, and meet nutrient needs. The 2020–2025 edition provides recommendations for all life stages, including infants and toddlers.

Feeding Guidelines for Infants and Young Toddlers: A Responsive Parenting Approachexternal icon
This report presents recommendations for promoting healthy nutrition and feeding patterns for infants and toddlers from birth to 24 months, with an emphasis on dietary quality, portion sizes, and mealtime environment.

Healthy Childrenexternal icon
This website was developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics for parents. It features thousands of articles in English and Spanish on children’s health and safety, as well as interactive tools.

United States Department of Agriculture Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)external icon
The WIC Program provides support to low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, babies, and children up to age 5. WIC provides nutritious foods, information on healthy eating, breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health care.

United States Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)external icon
SNAP provides benefits to low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities.

Feeding and Beverage Recommendationsexternal icon
Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, offers science-based recommendations for parents and caregivers. Tips are available for feeding children from birth through 24 monthsexternal icon and beverages for children from birth through 5 yearsexternal icon. Tips for older children are also available.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Advice About Eating Fishexternal icon
The U.S. FDA and EPA provide advice regarding eating fish. This advice can help people make informed choices when it comes to the types of fish that are nutritious and safe to eat. It is especially important for those who might become pregnant, who are pregnant, or who are breastfeeding, as well as for parents and caregivers who are feeding children. This advice supports the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

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CDC’s Breastfeeding Information
CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO) is committed to increasing breastfeeding rates throughout the United States. CDC provides information for public health professionals and others to help support breastfeeding mothers, such as managing breastfeeding during various maternal and infant illnesses and conditions, any precautions for vaccines during breastfeeding, and recommendations for proper storage and handling of expressed human milk.

International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA)external icon
ILCA is the member association for professionals who care for breastfeeding families. ILCA’s “Find a Lactation Consultant Directory” can help you find a lactation consultant to get the breastfeeding support you need.

United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA)external icon
USLCA is a professional association for International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) and other health care professionals who care for breastfeeding families. USLCA’s “Find an IBCLC” can help you find a lactation consultant to get the breastfeeding support you need.

WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children—Breastfeeding Support external icon
The United States Department of Agriculture Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Breastfeeding Support website includes resources for expectant and current mothers about breastfeeding, overcoming common challenges, and thriving to make breastfeeding work for their families.

La Leche League USAexternal icon
La Leche League USA helps mothers to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education and promotes a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.

Office on Women’s Healthexternal icon
The Office on Women’s Health’s vision is for all women and girls to achieve the best possible health outcomes. They provide information on breastfeeding to help women make infant feeding decisions and to guide mothers through the breastfeeding process.

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Infant Formula

Questions & Answers for Consumers Concerning Infant Formulaexternal icon
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration regulates infant formula and has a list of questions and answers about infant formula.

Infant Formula Do’s and Don’tsexternal icon
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides information on infant formula preparation and storage, as well as other tips on how to keep infant formula safe.

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Food Safety

Food Safety Concerns for Children Under Fiveexternal icon
Food safety is particularly important for young children. provides information on safely preparing food for your child.

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Meal Time

Fruits & Veggies—Have a Plant Movementexternal icon
A resource designed to help spread the word about the health benefits of adding more fruits and veggies to your diet.

USDA MyPlate Kitchenexternal icon
This online tool features a large collection of recipes and resources to support building healthy and budget-friendly meals. Site features include:

  • Extensive search filters on cuisine, cooking equipment, nutrition content, and more.
  • Detailed nutrition information.
  • Cookbooks to browse and download or build your own.
  • Recipe star ratings, review comments, and sharing on social networks.

Video Series on How to Introduce Solid Foods
1,000 Days has developed helpful videos about introducing solid foods to your baby. Topics include:

  • Is your baby ready to start eating foods?
  • What is a good first food for your baby?
  • What to expect when introducing first foods
  • How much should I feed my baby?
  • How to win at mealtimeexternal icon
  • What foods should my baby avoid?
  • What should your baby eat in the first year?

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Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin and Mineral Fact Sheetsexternal icon
The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements has fact sheets for consumers and health professionals about vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements.

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Why children are picky eaters and what to do about it

  • Colin Barras
  • BBC Earth

Photo credit: Cultura Creative (RF) / Alamy Stock Photo 9001 Description vitamins and minerals do not help the benefits

All parents know how stubbornly a baby can refuse certain foods - but this behavior has a good reason, scientists say.

Children are the world's harshest culinary critics. No matter how much effort and imagination parents put into preparing food, the chances that a two-year-old picky will turn his nose are great. Distrust is primarily generated by unfamiliar products. And vegetables occupy the first place among them.

As much as parents may be upset by this behavior of their children, it is encouraging to know that small children are not the only capricious eaters in the world. The young of many animals are also very wary of new foods.

At first glance, this looks strange. Food is often scarce, so why would babies refuse food when they have it? Biologists offer several explanations for this phenomenon.

Psychologist Lucy Cook from University College London, who also works at Great Ormond Street Hospital, has been studying children's eating habits for over 15 years.

She distinguishes two types of capricious behavior in children at the table. On the one hand, there are picky eaters - those who have a limited amount of acceptable food. On the other hand, there are neophobes, children who refuse any new or unfamiliar dishes.

Image copyright HD57life / Alamy Stock Photo

Caption before photo

Children are the world's toughest food critics

Together with a team of scientists, Cook observes twins born in England and Wales in 2007.

Because identical twins share 100% of their genes, but only 50% of theirs, scientists can find out whether certain eating habits in children are genetically determined.

Various studies have shown that both pickiness and the fear of new foods are indeed genetic. But only half. Upbringing and experience can have about the same effect on the culinary preferences of the baby.

An in-depth study of the scientific literature shows that pickiness in food also depends on the age of the child. It noticeably increases after 1. 5-2 years and persists until adolescence.

Why so?

Our ancient ancestors lived mainly by gathering. Most of their diet consisted of plants. And plants, especially in the tropics, where most of the evolution of the human race took place, often contain toxins. Consequently, ancient people had to provide themselves with a varied diet, but at the same time be very careful with new plants. Scientists call this phenomenon the "omnivore dilemma."

Image copyright Leila Cutler / Alamy Stock Photo

Image caption,

Oddly enough, they rarely refuse chocolate.

In the first year and a half or two years of life, children do not feel the dilemma of omnivores, as parents carefully choose their food. But from about the age of two, children become more independent.

They begin to explore the environment and the food in it. And, therefore, from an evolutionary point of view, it is quite justified that children at this age begin to treat unfamiliar foods with great fear. This theory also explains why children are so hard to get to try vegetables, especially green vegetables like peas or broccoli.

Author photo, Anup Shah/

PIDSIS to the photo,

Hunters-collectors were supposed to choose food with a great caution of

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End podcast

Observations of children conducted by anthropologist Elizabeth Cushden of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City confirm the dilemma of omnivores. In particular, the researcher found that poisonous plants pose a danger to children even in modern developed societies.

After talking to the Utah Poison Control Center, Cushden learned that houseplants are the number one cause of poisoning among children aged six months to one and a half years.

To further confirm the hypothesis of poisonous plants, the scientist turned to other biological species. If the omnivore dilemma does affect children's eating habits, it must also apply to other types of omnivores or herbivores, not just humans.

Several studies on gorillas and rats have found that some young members of these species are wary of new foods. But in general, the evidence to support the existence of the omnivore dilemma in animals was noticeably lacking.

Other studies have shown that picky eaters are found in all kinds of animals, even fish. Researcher Nicola Marples of Trinity College Dublin suggests calling this behavior "dietary conservatism" instead of neophobia.

Image copyright Kim Taylor/

Image caption,

Even fish can be a fussy eater

Fear of new foods should fade as a baby or baby animal sees the same food again and again. But some animals—just like small children—remain persistently reluctant to eat certain foods, even when they lose the novelty factor.

Back in 1995, Marples and her colleagues discovered that dietary conservatism is hereditary and apparently regulated by certain genes.

According to Marples, it also explains one of the most mysterious phenomena in the theory of evolution - why many types of poisonous plants and animals are brightly colored.

Scientists for a long time could not understand how this phenomenon developed in the process of evolution, because the first individual, colored brighter than others, should have attracted the attention of a predator. And how, then, could the species survive, let alone how the bright coloration could spread to the entire population.

Dietary conservatism explains this paradox. A predator may deliberately avoid consuming a colorful individual because it is different from other members of the species, and therefore something new and risky.

The author of the photo, Dave Bevan

Photo caption,

The bright color of the bees signals their viciousness

Researchers, however, agree that although pickiness in food is caused by genes, the environment in which a child grows and is brought up has a great meaning. If in the animal world a cub lives in a social group with adults, he carefully observes which plants his parents eat and eats the same.

In the same way, children are guided by the experience of adults in choosing safe food. The findings from these studies provide important clues to parents who are trying to feed their little fussy kids. Parents should eat with their children. Ideally, the same dishes that they give to children.

"Restaurants that have a separate menu for children make a big mistake," says Claire Louwelyn of University College London, who is also involved in the study of twins' eating habits.

But, unfortunately, in reality, many parents in modern society do not manage to sit down at the table with their children. Some come home late from work, and the kid can't wait until 8 to have dinner.

Image copyright Radius Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Photo caption,

For some reason, everything always comes down to broccoli

Lifestyle in developed countries adversely affects children's eating habits in other ways as well.

Many mothers go to work shortly after giving birth and are unable to breastfeed.

"But it's through the mother's milk that babies get to know the aromas and flavors of the food they eat," says Lynn Burch, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. .

This is why many children miss nature's cues that would help them avoid the omnivore dilemma. And as a result, some of them become capricious eaters. In extreme cases, a child's innate tendency to food neophobia can lead to an extremely restrictive diet that will satisfy the baby's tastes but harm his health.

Image copyright Roger Bamber / Alamy Stock Photo

However, Claire Louwelyn advises parents not to despair, even if their child is very picky about food.

"Our genes do not completely determine our fate. Genetically determined predisposition to something does not mean that it cannot be overcome by patient and persistent education," says the scientist.

How to feed a naughty baby

  • Do not use food as a reward, for example, promising your child a piece of cake if he eats broccoli. After all, this makes the dish more and more unloved, because the baby believes that it can only be eaten for a reward. And the cake, on the contrary, becomes more desirable.
  • Instead, parents can offer a non-food reward. Usually stickers or just verbal praise are a big success.
  • Many studies show that eating together and sharing menus with parents helps toddlers overcome food prejudice.
  • The researchers also encourage parents to be persistent. If your child stubbornly refuses a new food, offer it at the next meal. Keep doing this over and over.
  • Research shows that children usually agree to try a new dish after it has been offered to them at 15 consecutive meals.

You can read the original of this article in English on the website BBC Earth.

Children and food: to eat or not to eat?

Everyone knows that the number one concern of any Jewish mother is to feed her child. And not just feed, but so that the child crawls out from the table on his haunches - happy and well-fed. However, is this correct, and what to do if the child (oh, horror!) Refuses to eat, we are discussing today.

The question of feeding arises before parents literally from birth. First, a decision is made whether to breastfeed or transfer the child to artificial feeding, then the problem arises of choosing the time and method of feeding: by the hour or on demand, supplement or let him eat as much as he can eat. All this is solved in each family in different ways, depending on the situation.

When the child has already grown up and eats the same food as the parents, the difficulties do not recede, again it is necessary to decide on the diet, what can and cannot be given to the child, and so on. And how often do you have to listen to parents talking about the fact that the child does not eat well or slowly, or only cookies, and so on. Here are some rules and tips that will help you feel calmer in this matter, and as a result, the child will eat better.

And I’ll make a reservation right away, all these recommendations apply to healthy children, if the child has any serious illnesses, allergies or something else that affects how he eats, then you need to consult with the relevant specialists: doctors, nutritionists, psychologists, etc.

First, it is important to understand that nutrition is one of the basic needs of the body, so normally, a child who is not denied food will not starve to death, even if he refuses to eat for a while. Over time, young mothers are able to distinguish crying in their children, which relates to hunger, from all other types of crying. Accordingly, it is recommended to feed the child exactly when he is hungry, this will help him learn to determine for himself that he is hungry, and also to feel the moment of saturation. To do this, it is important to feed the baby not by the hour, but when he wants to. Here it is important to distinguish between the moments when the child is really hungry, and when he just wants contact and communication through feeding. It happens that children want to eat, but they eat little, it happens that they indulge. Understanding comes with experience, the main thing to remember is that food is pleasure, you should not make violence out of feeding.

When the child has grown up and already eats with his parents, it is important to feed him according to the schedule: breakfast, lunch and dinner, and ideally they should take place every day at the same time. In addition to the fact that the body gets used to the schedule, this order of things creates in the child a sense of predictability and clarity of the outside world, which is necessary for his harmonious psychological development. Trust your child and his appetite, offer food, but do not force him to eat. This will create an atmosphere of respect and trust.

Snacks are allowed, but should not be cookies or sweets, but an apple, carrot, cucumber, or any other fruit or vegetable. If the child does not want to eat at a time when everyone is eating, do not force him, do not frighten him, do not punish and do not turn feeding into a game and theater, trying to feed your child. Calmly warn the baby that you will have to wait until the next meal, and of course do not give him any cookies and buns during the break. There will be nothing terrible about skipping feeding, but the child will gain the experience of responsibility for his decisions.

It is also important to say about what to feed the child. Decisions about what will be for breakfast, lunch or dinner, are made by the parent. He can consult with the child, but the final decision and responsibility is always with the adult. Starting to cook food, you can offer your child a choice, but not open (what would you like for lunch?), But from what you think is right and from what is now available and convenient to cook (what will you eat for breakfast: cottage cheese Or an egg?). This again will give the child a sense of independence, he will understand that he is considered, but at the same time he will be able to choose something useful, and not chips or sweets.

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