How babies eat their 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.
Top of Page
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.
Top of Page
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.
Top of Page
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.
Top of Page
Food Safety Concerns for Children Under Fiveexternal icon
Food safety is particularly important for young children. Foodsafety.gov provides information on safely preparing food for your child.
Top of Page
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?
Top of Page
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.
Top of Page
Food allergies in kindergarten: is it possible to give a child food to go?
How to organize meals for a child with food allergies in kindergarten? Natalia Anpetkova, Chairperson of the Commission for Quality Control and Catering in Educational Organizations of the City Expert and Advisory Council of the Parents' Community of Moscow, tells the story.
Question. My child has a food intolerance and cannot eat many foods. He sprinkles it all over ordinary borscht from kindergarten. But he loves the garden very much. Can I cook food for him and give it with me?
Answer. Until recently, the answer to this question would have been "alas, no." However, from January 1, 2021, the sanitary rules SanPiN 2.3/2.4.3590-20 came into force (see clauses 8.2; 8.2.1; 8.2.2 and 8.2.3).
In Moscow, three preschool institutions in different districts have been opened for children in need of medical and dietary nutrition. In addition, in accordance with clause 8.2.3, in general educational organizations with preschool groups, conditions have been created for catering children with ready-made home-cooked meals provided by parents
Moreover, even if there is only one child with such a problem in the kindergarten, the educational institution is obliged to create conditions for eating specifically for this child. At the same time, it must be equipped according to the same rules as a similar room in a regular kindergarten group.
Clause 8.2.3. SanPiN 2.3 / 2.4.3590-20 prescribes: “In an organization that provides nutrition to children in need of medical and dietary nutrition, it is allowed for children to eat ready-made home-cooked meals provided by the parents of children in the dining room or specially designated premises (places) equipped with tables and chairs, a refrigerator (depending on the number of children eating in this form) for temporary storage of ready-made meals and food products, microwave ovens for warming up meals, conditions for washing hands.
How to organize individual meals for a child in kindergarten?
- Visit medical specialists (pediatrician, allergist, gastroenterologist, nutritionist, etc.) and obtain a medical certificate or opinion with the appointment of the attending physician, as well as a detailed list of allergen foods that are excluded from the child's diet.
- Write an application addressed to the director of the educational institution, the complex of which includes a preschool department, attach a medical certificate to the application.
- Notify the teacher of the group the child is attending.
An employee responsible for catering will contact the parents and discuss the entire algorithm for organizing home-cooked meals.
It is important that the child's records show the expiration date of the child's diet. The fact is that the employee who will be responsible for organizing the nutrition of such children is not a medical worker. He must strictly follow the recommendations and deadlines indicated in the medical certificate.
Lack of free space in the kindergarten should not be an obstacle to catering children for medical reasons with home-cooked meals. If there is a corresponding application from parents or guardians (legal representatives) and a medical certificate, the educational complex is obliged to find resources and create conditions for organizing such meals.
An educational organization does not have the right to refuse to satisfy such an application, since the new sanitary rules (SanPiN 2.3 / 2.4.3590-20) is the law. That is, this rule is now valid throughout the Russian Federation.
For all questions, Moscow parents can always contact the City Expert Advisory Council of the Parents' Community under the Department of Education and Science of the City of Moscow. The issue will be resolved immediately.
Mel has a special newsletter for parents of preschoolers! "Pants with straps" are 16 letters from psychologists and educators, doctors and other experts. Subscribe if you are preparing for the first grade together with your child.
Photo: Shutterstock / Hanna Rusina
Can I take my child to kindergarten? | Child health | Health
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
In kindergartens, a balanced diet is organized for pupils, however, some parents prefer to give their children food from home. It can be a child’s favorite sweet that is not on the institution’s menu, various treats for the child’s friends on the occasion of his birthday, or a full meal if the child cannot, for whatever reason, eat what is offered in the kindergarten. Meanwhile, this cannot be done. According to Appendix No. 9to SanPiN 22.214.171.1244913 "Sanitary and epidemiological requirements for the arrangement, maintenance and organization of the working hours of preschool educational organizations", any food products of non-industrial production, as well as those brought from home, are prohibited to be used in the nutrition of kindergarteners. The federal law "On Education in the Russian Federation" also states that kindergarten employees are responsible for the life and health of pupils during their stay in the institution.
What if the child has a food allergy?
If a child has a food allergy or intolerance to any component of the diet, the kindergarten management is obliged to provide the child with suitable nutrition. To do this, you need to bring the conclusion of a pediatrician or allergist to the institution about the presence of the disease.
According to clause 15.10. SanPiN 126.96.36.1994913, in specialized kindergartens and groups for children with chronic diseases (diabetes mellitus, food allergies, frequently ill children), meals should be organized taking into account the relevant restrictions and regulations. However, even in ordinary kindergartens, when compiling the menu, the state of children's health should be taken into account (clause 15.3). Paragraph 15.13 of the document explicitly states that when compiling the daily menu of a kindergarten group, meal replacements for children with food allergies and diabetes should be indicated.
How should meals be organized in kindergarten?
According to SanPiN, food in kindergarten must satisfy the physiological needs of pupils for basic nutrients and energy. For example, the diet of children aged three to seven years should include 54 g of protein, 60 g of fat, 261 g of carbohydrates and have a calorie content of 1800 kcal. With this in mind, an approximate kindergarten menu is formed, which is approved by the leaders of the organization.
If a child spends 8-10 hours in the kindergarten, his meals are provided in four meals: breakfast, second breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. When children are in the institution for 12 hours, dinner is also added, and for a 24-hour stay, a second dinner and an additional meal before bedtime (sour-milk drink with a bakery or flour culinary product).
Breakfast should include a hot meal (porridge, casserole, cottage cheese or eggs), as well as a sandwich and a hot drink. For lunch, kindergarteners are given a snack (salad or vegetables, herring with onions), soup, a side dish with meat, fish or poultry, as well as a drink (compote or jelly). An afternoon snack should consist of a drink (milk, sour-milk drinks, juices, tea) and a bun or confectionery without cream. For dinner, it is recommended to give fish, meat, vegetable and cottage cheese dishes, salads, vinaigrettes, hot or sour-milk drinks.