Can my 4 month old eat gerber baby food
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 can babies eat baby food? Tips to introduce solids
Health organizations recommend introducing solid foods into a baby’s diet around the age of 6 months. The term “solids” includes pureed or mashed solid foods, such as baby food.
This information comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
However, it is important for people to note that many preprepared baby foods available in stores contain multiple ingredients. To begin with, it is best to choose single-ingredient purees with no salt or additives.
This allows parents and caregivers to introduce one new food at a time, to monitor whether a baby has any allergies or intolerances. People may wish to buy single-ingredient baby foods or make them at home using a blender.
This article discusses when babies can eat baby food, how to introduce solids, and whether to introduce foods in a certain order. We also explore ways to approach common issues with introducing new foods.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a baby does not need any extra nutrition or energy from solid foods, which includes baby food, until around 6 months old. This is because, until this age, babies rely on their own iron stores rather than sourcing it from their diet.
However, after 6 months, the iron stores start to reduce. Since breast milk and formula do not contain enough iron to meet a baby’s nutritional needs, they need to start eating solid foods too.
Before a baby can begin solids, they should be able to:
- sit up straight with support
- hold their head in a steady, upright position
- show interest in food and open their mouth to receive it
- swallow food instead of spitting it back out, using their tongue to move it to the back of the mouth
The AAP advises that the baby should also be double their birth weight or weigh at least 13 pounds — 5. 9 kilograms.
Different babies reach these milestones at different ages. If a child has not begun to do these things or has not gained this much weight, it is worth consulting a pediatrician before introducing solids.
While many organizations recommend starting solid foods at 6 months, there remains debate about whether it is OK to introduce them sooner. According to a 2021 review, 90% of parents in Australia introduce solids before this age, and in the United States, many introduce them earlier than the recommended minimum of 4 months.
In previous studies, the most common reasons for doing this included:
- the baby being hungry all the time
- the baby seeming interested in solid food
- solid foods helping the baby sleep longer
It may be that some babies develop faster than others, and so are ready to begin solids sooner.
The authors of the 2021 review also describe a “sensitive period” between 4–9 months when a baby is most open to receiving new textures and tastes. Some studies suggest that introducing food earlier than 6 months may:
- increase willingness to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables later
- decrease the risk of having feeding problems
- reduce the risk of developing food allergies
However, more research is necessary to determine if this is true.
The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) advises that caregivers can give babies single-ingredient baby food from 4–6 months and introduce common allergens before 6 months. The organization also says that delaying allergenic foods until after 6 months may increase the risk of a baby developing an allergy.
However, there are potential risks to introducing foods earlier than 6 months. If they are not ready for solids, they may have an increased risk of choking. Additionally, their digestive system may not yet cope with the food, which could lead to gas, bloating, or diarrhea.
Ultimately, caregivers should observe the baby’s response to foods and not force a transition to solids if they do not appear ready.
To introduce baby food, it is best to offer single-ingredient purees, trying them one at a time. Caregivers can either purchase single-ingredient baby food from stores or mash or puree an ingredient they have at home.
- Wash the hands before preparing the food. Then, blend or mash the ingredient to a smooth texture, making sure there are no lumps.
- Cook the food thoroughly and allow it to cool until lukewarm.
- Wash the baby’s hands and sit them down with a bowl and baby spoon. A person may also want to use a bib.
- Try to guide half a spoonful of food into the baby’s mouth. Talk them through the process, encouraging them to open their mouth and taste it. If the food seems too thick, try watering it down a little.
- Stay with the baby at all times while they eat to monitor for signs of choking or an allergic reaction.
- Finish the meal with breast milk or formula, and wash the bowls, utensils, and spoon in hot soapy water when finished.
If the baby refuses to eat the food, cries, or keeps turning away, do not make them eat. Instead, go back to feeding with milk or formula exclusively and try again later.
If they get on well with the food, caregivers should keep offering it to the baby at mealtimes, alongside milk or formula. Wait 3–5 days before introducing another new ingredient.
Some caregivers opt to skip purees and baby foods altogether and move straight to allowing the baby to feed themselves with finger foods. People refer to this as baby-led weaning or baby self-feeding.
Caregivers who adopt this approach should ensure that their baby can grasp foods in the hands and bring them to the mouth before trying finger foods. Make sure all foods are easy to hold and soft enough for a baby to mash with their gums.
The AAP advises giving 4 ounces, or 113 grams, of solid foods per meal, which is around the same amount as one jar of baby food.
There is no specific order for introducing solid foods. However, it is important that early foods are soft and easy to mash. The AAAAI recommends starting with foods that are less likely to cause allergic reactions before moving on to more common allergens.
Some good candidates for a baby’s first foods could include:
- mashed banana
- sweet potato
- stewed apples or pears
- soft green vegetables
- rice or oat cereals fortified with iron
Blend or mash these foods to a smooth texture, and do not add salt or seasonings. Caregivers should avoid all foods that require chewing, such as:
- uncooked fruits or vegetables, except banana
- chunks of cheese or meat
- hard or chewy candy
The AAP also states that babies do not need fruit juice and recommends avoiding giving any until they are at least 12 months old due to their sugar content.
Once a baby tolerates their first few foods, there is no need to delay introducing more common allergens, such as eggs, dairy, nuts, or shellfish. Doing this may even increase the risk of a baby developing an allergy.
An exception is if a baby has severe eczema or a known egg allergy. Caregivers should consult a doctor before testing allergens such as peanuts if this is the case.
Some ideas for foods to introduce at this stage include:
- plain yogurt
- scrambled eggs
- smooth peanut butter
- fish flaked with a fork
After a few months of starting solid foods, the baby’s diet should include a variety of breast milk or formula, fruits, vegetables, protein, and cereals.
Learn more about how to make baby food at home here.
It takes time for babies to adjust to solid food. If they spit out or refuse to eat something, it may be because they are not sure how to eat it yet. Trying again, later on, may help.
Alternatively, the baby may feel full. Signs a baby has had enough to eat include:
- pushing their food or spoon away
- turning their head away
- closing their mouth when someone offers food
Babies can also dislike a food, to begin with, because it is a new flavor or texture. In this case, perseverance is key, especially with bitter vegetables, such as broccoli or spinach. According to 1,000 Days, it may take 10–20 attempts for a baby to enjoy and accept a new food flavor or texture.
If a baby is happy eating some foods but not others, a caregiver can try:
- mixing the new food with something they like, such as breast milk
- continuing to offer less popular foods at mealtimes until they show interest
- waiting a week before trying the new food again
If a baby refuses many or all foods, particularly after eating solids with little trouble, they may have another issue, such as:
- an ear infection
- a cough or cold
- tummy problems
In some cases, it is a good idea for caregivers to consult a pediatrician before starting solids. This is particularly true if a baby was preterm or has special needs.
Severe eczema or early allergy symptoms can also change how someone introduces baby foods. A doctor can advise on the best approach.
If a baby suddenly starts refusing food, it can signal a medical condition. Caregivers should consult a medical professional about this to get a diagnosis. They may also have tips for overcoming the problem while the baby recovers, such as providing chilled foods to ease teething pain.
Before introducing solid foods, most health organizations recommend waiting until a baby reaches 6 months of age. A baby may be interested in baby food sooner than this, but they must be able to sit up straight, hold their head steady, and be able to swallow food that is thicker than milk.
While preprepared baby foods are convenient, it is best to start with single-ingredient purees containing no additional ingredients. This helps with discovering any food allergies or intolerances. Caregivers should choose soft and smooth foods and stay with the baby while they eat.
From 4 to 6 months
Breast milk is the best food for your baby.
It is very important that the baby consumes breast milk for as long as possible.
The right age to start complementary foods
It is recommended to start introducing complementary foods into the baby's diet no earlier than 4 months, but no later than 6 months*. At this age, the baby is in the active phase of development and reacts with curiosity to everything new! Some babies at 4 to 5 months of age can no longer satisfy their appetite with breast milk alone and need complementary foods for healthy growth. Other children have enough breast milk, and they are ready for the introduction of complementary foods only after 6 months. The decision to start complementary foods should always be made according to your baby's development. Do you feel like your baby is not getting enough breast milk? Does your baby hold his head on his own, show interest in new foods or a spoon? Then it's time to start feeding. If in doubt, consult your pediatrician.
If your baby spits out the first spoonfuls of puree, be patient. After all, he must first learn to swallow it. Start with a few scoops and give your child time to get used to the new form of feeding.
*Recommendation of the Nutrition Committee of the European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN)
Why is complementary food important for the baby?
After 4-6 months of life, mother's milk or milk formula alone is not enough to supply the child's body with all the nutrients and necessary energy. In addition, the transition to solid food trains the muscles of the mouth. And finally, with the introduction of complementary foods, the child will get acquainted with the variety of taste directions, which is also important for his development.
When to start complementary foods?
Gradually replace one breastfeed with complementary foods. First for lunch, then for dinner and finally for lunch. The mouse eats breakfast with the usual dairy food.
Starting complementary foods with HiPP products is easy. The first spoons will be vegetable or fruit purees HiPP:
First step: lunch
We recommend that you start complementary foods at lunchtime with HiPP vegetable puree (for example, "Zucchini. My first puree", "Cauliflower. My first puree" or "Broccoli .My first puree"). Then, for satiety, feed your baby as always: breast or bottle. The amount of vegetable puree can be increased daily by 1 spoon. Be patient if your baby does not immediately love vegetables. Try repeating the vegetable puree in the following days. Next week, you can expand your diet with other varieties of HiPP vegetables (for example, "Carrots. My first puree" or "Potatoes. My first puree").
If your baby tolerates vegetables well, in the third week you can introduce grain porridge into the diet, and as a dessert, offer a few spoons of fruit puree enriched with vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to better absorb iron in the body.
Once your baby starts eating a whole serving of mashed potatoes for lunch, you can eliminate breast milk or formula during that meal.
Tip: Reheat as much puree as needed for feeding. Store leftover puree in a sealed jar in the refrigerator. Use the contents of the opened jar within a day.
Important! If you are using a microwave, please remove the lid before reheating puree. Stir after heating. To prevent damage to the jar, please use only a plastic spoon. Always check food temperature before feeding.
from 6 months
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Complementary foods at 4 months | Useful tips from the Tyoma brand
It is well known that the ideal time to introduce complementary foods is between 4 and 6 months of age. The presence of a child's teeth or the ability to sit are not signs of a child's readiness for complementary foods. It is important that the baby does not have a reflex of pushing the spoon with his tongue, and he can swallow food thicker than breast milk or formula well.
The pediatrician will help determine the exact start date for complementary foods, and in most cases this is the golden mean of 5-5.5 months. But there are situations when complementary foods need to be started from 4 months, including even a child who is exclusively breastfed.
In what cases are complementary foods introduced from 4 months?
- The child is not gaining weight well or is lagging behind in physical development.
- The child has functional digestive disorders (regurgitation, constipation).
- The mother has little breast milk or it is poorly absorbed.
- The child has a reduced appetite or is not digesting formula well.
- The child has signs of iron deficiency (anemia).
- The child has a pronounced food interest: he watches with interest the food of adults, reaches for food.
- The child stopped eating formula and began to demand food more often.
How to start complementary foods at 4 months?
The first product of complementary foods, regardless of the age and type of feeding of the baby (breast or artificial), should be energy-intensive foods: either porridge or vegetable puree. Porridge can be chosen first if the child has loose or unstable stools, and also if the child is underweight. After 4-5 days from the beginning of the introduction of porridge, butter can be gradually added to it (up to 5 g per serving of porridge in 150 g)
Mashed vegetables can be the first meal of the day if a child is prone to constipation, when it is better to choose zucchini, which can have a mild laxative effect on the child's stool. Starting from the 4-5th day of the introduction of vegetable puree, vegetable oil can be gradually added to it (up to 5 g per serving of vegetables in 150 g).
What foods can be introduced into the diet of a child at 4 months?
Of the first cereals, it is better to give preference to buckwheat or rice. They must be dairy-free and can be diluted with water or breast milk, or the mixture that the baby eats. Later, you can introduce corn and oatmeal.
The first vegetable puree can be zucchini, broccoli, or cauliflower.
The third type of complementary food can be fruit puree from apples or pears. Later, you can introduce mashed banana or apricot. At first, fruit puree can not be given to the child separately, but it is better to mix it with cereal or vegetables so that the child does not begin to prefer the sweet taste of fruits. When the amount of fruit puree reaches 50 g or more, it can also be given separately, for example, after the child has eaten porridge or for an afternoon snack.
Juices should not be the first feeding, in addition, they can not be introduced into the baby's first year of life at all, given their sweet taste and low nutritional value.
Can you make your own first meal?
You can prepare the first complementary foods yourself, but it is safer to use hypoallergenic monocomponent cereals or commercially produced purees prepared to high quality standards for baby food. In addition, it is important to consider that industrially produced baby cereals are often fortified with vitamins and minerals, which makes them especially useful for the first feeding.
How to start the introduction of a new product?
Complementary foods are introduced before breastfeeding or formula. The introduction of a new product should be gradual. But how is it?
- On day 1, give your baby 1 tsp. complementary foods before breastfeeding or formula
- On day 2 - 3 tsp. (15 g)
- On day 3 - 6 tsp. (30 g)
- Day 4 - 50 g
- Day 5 - 70 g
- Day 7 - 100 g
- For 8-10 days - bring to 150 g.
Please note that if complementary foods are introduced from 4 months, then the introduction of 1 new product may take longer than the introduction of complementary foods from 5 or 6 months, namely up to 10 days or more, depending on the reaction of the baby.
If on the 8-10th day of the introduction of a new product, the baby still cannot eat 100-150 ml of porridge or puree at once, then this amount can be divided into 2 or even 3 doses, for example, give 50 ml of porridge in the morning, 50 ml in the afternoon and 50 ml in the evening. Why do this? So that the child gradually gets used not only to the new product, but also to its quantity. In the future, you need to try to gradually increase the one-time amount of the product to the age volume.