Baby introduction to solid foods

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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Sample Menu for a Baby 8 to 12 Months Old

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Ages & Stages

Ages & Stages

Now that your baby is eating solid foods, planning meals can be more challenging. At this age, your baby needs between 750 and 900 calories each day, of which about 400 to 500 should come from breast milk or formula (if you are not breastfeeding)—roughly 24 ounces (720 mL) a day. Breast milk and formula contain vitamins, minerals, and other important components for brain growth.

At about eight months, you may want to introduce foods that are slightly coarser than strained pureed foods. They require more chewing than baby foods. You can expand your baby's diet to include soft foods such as yogurt, oatmeal, mashed banana, mashed potatoes, or even thicker or lumpy pureed vegetables. Eggs (including scrambled) are an excellent source of protein, as are cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and avocado.

Sample menu ideas for an 8- to 12-month-old baby:

1 cup = 8 ounces = 240 ml
¾ cup = 6 ounces = 180 ml
½ cup = 4 ounces = 120 ml
¼ cup = 2 ounces = 60 ml


  • 2 to 4 ounces cereal, or 1 mashed or scrambled egg

  • 2 to 4 ounces mashed or diced fruit

  • Breastmilk or 4 to 6 ounces formula



  • 2 to 4 ounces yogurt or cottage cheese, or pureed or diced beans or meat

  • 2 to 4 ounces cooked pureed or diced yellow or orange vegetables

  • Breastmilk or 4 to 6 ounces formula



  • 2 to 4 ounces diced diced poultry, meat, or tofu

  • 2 to 4 ounces cooked green vegetables

  • 2 to 4 ounces cooked soft-whole grain pasta or potato

  • 2 to 4 ounces diced or mashed fruit

  • Breastmilk or 4 to 6 ounces formula

Before bedtime

Breastmilk or 6 to 8 ounces formula, or water. (If breastmilk or formula, follow with water or brush teeth afterward).

More information

  • Sample Menu for a One-Year-Old
  • Starting Solid Foods
  • Breastfeeding Mealtime Milestones
  • Ask the Pediatrician: Is it OK to make my own baby food?
Last Updated
Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 7th Edition (Copyright © 2019 American Academy of Pediatrics)

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

How to teach your baby to chew: teaching your baby to chew solid food

Glinskikh Elena

Published: 01/15/2023

Reading time:


What are the difficulties

When a small child appears in a family, parents face a difficult task: not just 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. nine0003

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. nine0003

When to introduce the first complementary foods

Exactly 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.

How to tell if your baby is ready for solid food

As a rule, your baby will let you know that he is interested in updating his diet. This can be seen from his behavior:

  • stops sucking food from a spoon, removing it with lips
  • Trying to chew
  • shows interest in the "adult" food
  • Passes hard items
  • .

    This usually does not happen before 6-8 months - that's when you can start giving the baby 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. Shredded 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 as part of cereals, tiny pieces of well-cooked vegetables
    • At 9-12 months, the child can already cope with chewing food with pieces up to 3 mm.
    • At 1 year of age and beyond, teach the child to chew solid food independently

      Common mistakes

      Young parents may inadvertently 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 started 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. nine0003

      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. nine0003

      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).

      No Foods

      To avoid food allergies and digestive problems, never give a child under four years of age:

      • lollipops, caramel, toffee
      • nuts and any seeds
      • hard pieces of meat
      • whole grapes
      • large pieces of hard fruits and vegetables

      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 the child, but leave a few tiny, boiled pieces of vegetables while blending with a blender
      • Later, the vegetables can be chopped with a fork, the pieces will become larger, but not hard enough for the child to choke
      • The best effect will help to achieve products that taste like the child. These can be baked apples and pears, bananas, children's cookies
      • 0026

      If, during the learning process, the child continues to choke and is unable to swallow solid food, this is an occasion to consult a doctor who will find the cause of the problem.

      Game process

      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. nine0003

      Author of article

      Glinskikh Elena


      About the author

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      Article content

      • What are the difficulties
      • When to introduce the first complementary foods
      • How to tell if your baby is ready for solid food
      • How to choose a diet for young children
      • Common errors
      • Prohibited products
      • What to do if the child cannot eat hard pieces
      • Gameplay

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      How to teach a child to chew solid food?

      Shalunova Anastasia Ivanovna

      Member of the Russian Union of Nutritionists, Nutritionists and Food Industry Specialists

      Bring the spoon to your mouth, play with your food, twist the food with your tongue, spit it out, take a bite, try to chew it, and finally swallow a piece. .. What children do to cope with adult food, which at first seems so "difficult"! We tell you how to teach your child to chew solid food so that it does not become a family problem. Consulted by nutritionist Anastasia Ivanovna Shalunova. nine0003

      - Anastasia Ivanovna, let's talk about how to teach a child to chew and swallow solid food. Why is age important here?

      — It is important not to miss the right moment when chewing is the easiest to develop. The most optimal period is from 6 to 10 months, with the introduction of complementary foods with pieces. However, the boundaries of the norm are conditional, because a child can only eat liquid food at a year and a half.

      Children begin to chew due to the development of the physiological and neuropsychological processes of the body - this is individual for each child. And here the influence of caesarean section and natural childbirth is also very important, how the birth process proceeded and how the baby developed from birth. nine0003

      When to give your baby solid food

      — How do parents know when their baby is ready to chew solid food?

      — Food interest is conditionally formed from 4 to 6 months, when a child pulls a plate, a spoon towards himself, asks for food. During this period, complementary foods begin, gradually moving from homogeneous puree-like dishes to more dense, with pieces.

      The child is ready to chew food if:

      • he confidently picks up and holds a spoon; nine0026
      • sits without adult support;
      • receives complementary foods for three to four weeks.

      From 6 to 10 months, it is easier to teach a baby to eat and chew food in bite-sized pieces. If the child does not gnaw, but sucks or licks what was given to him, there is no need to forbid him - perhaps he is not hungry or he is interested in something else at the moment.

      In the absence of interest in food for up to a year, work with psychologists, neuropsychologists, and neurologists may be necessary. Each of them will look at the children's problem from their side and give recommendations. nine0003

      — How many teeth are enough to start chewing?

      — You can “chew” food even without teeth, rubbing the pieces with your gums. Some children have teeth late, but they are still given solid food in order to develop chewing skills. At the same time, chewing can stimulate blood circulation and tooth growth.

      Read also
      • What "adult" food can be given to a baby under one year old and when to start the transition to a common table.

      — What problems can arise if a child does not chew food?

      - Some parents complain that the child chokes on solid food or that he does not chew, but swallows immediately. This may be due to the late introduction of solid foods.

      In addition, if a child does not chew food well, this provokes digestive problems. You should not load the immature digestive system of the baby, as the child's body does not yet produce enough enzymes. In this case, the child will refuse food, will eat or chew less often. nine0003

      What principles of nutrition should be followed:

      • give the child a variety of foods, but in reasonable quantities, and watch the body's reaction;
      • slow eating improves digestion and increases the feeling of satiety, so it is important to remember to chew your food thoroughly;
      • with a healthy diet, it is better to avoid feeding in front of the TV and phone, or use them very pointwise. Gadgets distract from food, lead to unconscious and rapid consumption of food, and this can result in metabolic syndrome and subsequently lead to overweight or type II diabetes. nine0026

      — How do you feel about tongue massage to improve food processing?

      - Tongue massage is very often used by speech therapists to relieve muscle spasms in dysarthria in children, when pronunciation suffers. During massage, fingers, toothbrushes, probes are used, which can be traumatic for a child.

      Parents of such children should be aware of the contraindications to speech therapy massage:

      • skin rashes, swelling, wounds;
      • herpetic infections of the oral cavity; nine0026
      • colds;
      • severe forms of chronic diseases;
      • oncological, neuropsychiatric diagnoses.

      - How to teach a child to chew food - where to start? What size should the pieces be?

      — To make chewing effective and fun, a child must have an interest in food. Favorite product will be chewed best. It is also necessary to take into account the novelty of sensations and introduce new foods when the baby is hungry. nine0003

      Nuances that parents should pay attention to:

      • Be sure to develop food interest and build a diet, that is, the child should be hungry for the next meal.
      • It is best to start with pieces in foods that the child has already eaten pureed. The taste will be familiar to him, but the texture will be slightly different.
      • Cooking of vegetables is encouraged.
      • It is important to look at whether the baby is coping with his portion. The first pieces are given no larger than a match head, then the size of a little finger nail, then everything is larger. You can give the baby in the hand slices of fresh fruits, baby cookies, crackers. nine0026
      • Nibbler recommended for a smooth transition from puree to chunks. With him, the child eats on his own, and helps teeth erupt.
      • The behavior of parents influences the behavior of the child at the table. If meeting at dinner or lunch is a family tradition, then the child automatically joins it and gets used to it, focusing on the example of the parents.

      Do not give up trying to give solid food, even if the child spits out the food. But you don’t need to push the product either: you can offer it at a different moment, vary the pieces in size. Also, do not be afraid to give solid food to the child and be nervous during his training and feeding. Anxiety and panic are transmitted on a subconscious level - the baby can just hurry up and choke. nine0003

      — What mistakes do parents make when feeding their baby?

      — Most often, parents are in a hurry. They should pay attention to the formation of the oral apparatus and the psychological readiness of the baby to eat independently, chew and swallow the food bolus. It often happens that during the period of adaptation of the child, for example, after vaccination or moving, the mother begins to give him something unfamiliar and teach him new skills. This will only complicate the task.

      If a child flatly refuses to chew solid food, do not force feed him, you need to find out the reason. nine0003

      - And finally, probably one of the most popular parenting questions - cartoons during meals. What are the pros and cons?

      - The child will be distracted from food by cartoons, which will negatively affect the whole process of nutrition. The purpose of eating is for the child to eat and realize that he is full. "If you're hungry, let's eat, if you want cartoons, watch them later" - these should be the rules. These actions must be distinguished, because watching cartoons is accompanied by other mental and motor processes. nine0003

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