How early can you feed baby 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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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

Baby food: formula feeding, introduction of complementary foods, combination with breastfeeding | Allure

How do I read a baby food label? What ingredients should you pay attention to first? What ingredients should you never buy with?

Baby food labels are designed to provide all the necessary information for its safe use in accordance with baby food requirements.

All baby food products are subject to the strictest control of all ingredients, so you can be sure you are buying a safe product.

See label for advice on how to prepare and store formula or complementary foods.

If you have a question about any of the ingredients, you can contact your pediatrician or the infant formula hotlines.

When choosing baby food, you should be guided by the doctor's recommendations and the characteristics of your baby. There are children with special nutritional needs, special formulas have been developed for such babies.

Is it possible to produce purees and juices for children at home? Or is it better to buy ready-made?

The question often arises - what to prefer: home-cooked food or ready-made baby food? Of course, mom's food can be very tasty, but special food for babies has many advantages:

- strict control at all stages, from selection of products to packaging, guarantees the safety of finished products;

- the latest technology allows you to maximize the preservation of vitamins and taste of products, while most of the vitamins and minerals are lost during home processing;

– in canned purees and instant cereals, vitamins and minerals necessary for the baby are added exactly in the amount in which the growing body of the child needs them;

- the consistency of the product corresponds to the age capabilities of the baby;

- after all, it's convenient and economical - the size of the jars increases with the age of the baby, and ready meals allow you to spend more time with your child.

There is an opinion: the more expensive food is, the better it is. It is a myth!

There are many brands of baby food on the market today. How do I know which one is right for my child?

First you need to consult a doctor. This is especially important when it comes to the use of infant formula.

You can contact baby food manufacturers directly to learn about the benefits of a particular product. Parental counseling phone numbers are usually listed on product packaging.

If you choose complementary foods, you can additionally focus on the taste preferences of the child.

What are the most common mistakes young mothers make about baby food?

Breastfeeding: All mothers know that the best food is breast milk, and mothers often underestimate the amount of milk and rush to introduce supplemental formula. Babies quickly learn that it is easier to get food from a bottle than from a breast, and they may refuse the best food - breast milk.

Use of mix: Frequent change of mix. Colic, intestinal malfunctions are often associated with the immaturity of the child's digestive system. When a baby is worried about something, mothers often rush to change their diet, believing that changing the mixture will magically solve all difficulties. At the same time, parents often change their diet abruptly and forget that the body may need time to adapt to a new diet.

The rapid introduction of new complementary foods is also a common mistake, because the child's body does not have time to adapt to a new type of food.

How soon can complementary foods be introduced?

There are different opinions about when is the best time to introduce complementary foods. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months, and from 6 months, the introduction of complementary foods and continued breastfeeding. Russian standards allow the introduction of complementary foods in the diet of children from 4 months. This is due to the fact that at 4-6 months there is an optimal readiness of the intestines, the functional state of the kidneys and the gastrointestinal tract of healthy children for the assimilation of new types of food.

In any case (whether breastfeeding or bottle-feeding), we recommend discussing the timing and procedure for the introduction of complementary foods with the pediatrician who observes the child. The specialist will be able to assess all the features of the baby and his readiness for complementary foods.

When introducing a new food, it is important to follow some rules:


start the introduction of a new food only when the child is healthy


avoid introducing a new food in hot weather and during preventive vaccinations


each new product is recommended to be introduced gradually, from small amounts (juice - from a few drops, puree and porridge - from ½ teaspoon), increasing daily by 2 times and carefully monitoring its tolerance


at a time introduce one new product for a week


start with monocomponent purees and dairy-free gluten-free cereals (rice or buckwheat)


new food should be given before milk feeding, from a spoon, not through a nipple


it is better to introduce complementary foods in the first half of the day, during the second feeding

Is it possible to combine breastfeeding and “store-bought” baby food?

Breast milk and formula:

Yes, you can, but only if there is really not enough breast milk and all efforts to increase lactation do not lead to positive changes.

Breast milk and complementary foods (cereals, purees):

It is possible and necessary. If in the first half of the year all the needs of the child are satisfied with breast milk, from 6 months it is time to introduce the child to new products and gradually expand his diet. Breast milk continues to play an important role, but at the same time, children get acquainted with cereals, vegetable, meat and fruit purees, fermented milk products, etc.

What about water? How much water should babies be given to drink?

To accurately answer this question, you need to take into account the age of the child, the food he receives, individual characteristics.

When a mother has enough breast milk, the baby receives all the necessary nutrients and a sufficient amount of liquid from mother's milk.

When complementary foods are introduced, the baby must be offered water.

What can I do to make my child gain weight without harm to health?

It is necessary to additionally consult a doctor about the reasons for underweight.

If the baby was born small or premature, the doctor may recommend a special formula for feeding small and premature babies, because such babies especially need nutrition with a high content of protein, vitamins and minerals. Special mixtures have been developed to meet the special needs of these babies.

Baby food

Baby food and the healthy diet of a child are, of course, of concern to all parents. How and what to feed? When, how much? All this is important for moms and dads to know in order to navigate the diverse world of baby food in order to raise a healthy child.

20 most interesting facts about baby food, which will be useful to parents and help establish a healthy and proper diet for the child.

20 most useful and interesting facts about baby food

1. Breast milk is the most important product in a baby's diet, neither infant formula nor cow's or goat's milk can replace it. Pediatricians have proven that breast milk protects the baby from gastrointestinal infections, helps to avoid many respiratory infections, and protects the baby from allergies.

2. Taste habits are acquired in the mother's womb. The baby catches the aroma of the products that the expectant mother consumes during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Subsequently, the child perceives and digests these products easier. So the diet of a nursing mother and a pregnant woman should be especially healthy and varied.

3. Surprisingly, but true: breast milk intended for boys contains more proteins and fats than milk for girls.

4. Adding salt and sugar to baby food is not recommended until at least 1.5 years old, because salt overloads the kidneys, and sugar overloads the pancreas. It should be borne in mind that until the age of one, the kidneys of a child cannot process more than 1 g of salt per day - just as much salt is found in foods without added salt.

5. It has been proven that those who were given sweets by their parents in childhood suffer from excess weight in adulthood.

6. According to the World Health Organization, a 6-month-old child should eat 60-70 g of fruit and vegetable puree every day. A one-year-old baby requires about 100 g of fresh vegetables and fruits.

7. Iodized salt is much healthier than non-iodized salt. The mental development of a child is related to the amount of iodine he receives daily.

8. The shelf life of iodized salt is of great importance because iodine breaks down over time. So you should not consume iodized salt if more than 6 months have passed since the date of its packaging.

9. Semolina is the most useless porridge, because, in addition to carbohydrates, it practically does not contain trace elements and vitamins necessary for the child.

10. Oatmeal should not be given daily to a child, because it contains phytins, which interfere with the absorption of calcium.

11. Excess weight in a child is often associated with untimely introduction of cow's and goat's milk into complementary foods, which contains 3 times more protein than breast milk.

12. According to research, every year vegetables and fruits contain less and less vitamins and microelements. For example, over the past 30 years, the amount of magnesium in apples has decreased by 1.5 times, the content of iron in white cabbage from the beginning to the end of the 20th century has decreased by 2 times, calcium by 5 times and magnesium by 4 times.

13. As a result of heat treatment, vegetables and fruits lose more than 20% of vitamin B, more than 60% of vitamin C and most of the other vitamins. Only starch and fiber remain.

14. Juice cannot completely replace fruits and vegetables or puree them, because fruit and vegetable purees and pulp contain much more nutrients. Juice does not contain fiber at all, but it is necessary for proper digestion. In addition, fruit juices contain a high concentration of sugar, which is bad for a child's teeth.

15. Baby food marked with the words “for children” is enriched with the necessary vitamins and microelements in accordance with the norms of the Ministry of Health and WHO. As a rule, these are beta-carotene, iron, iodine, potassium, vitamin C.

16. It is prohibited by law to add preservatives to baby food. Duration of storage is ensured by special heat treatment, aseptic packaging, as well as the addition of vitamin C, which is not harmful to children.

17. The main advantage of commercially produced baby food - fruit, vegetable juices and purees, meat and fish dishes - is that the raw materials for its production are grown and obtained in ecologically clean areas where the presence of chemical industry enterprises is not allowed.

18. According to pediatricians and WHO, about 50% of babies under the age of one year receive too little meat in their daily diet. But it is at this age that children grow the fastest, so their bodies require meat products that contain the necessary iron, zinc and proteins. As a result of the lack of meat in the diet, children suffer from iron deficiency anemia.

19. Many children, according to psychologists, do not want to eat, not because they are not hungry, but because the process of eating food seems boring and too long for them.

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