How old do you feed babies 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.

Top of Page

Feeding Your 4- to 7-Month-Old (for Parents)

Most babies this age are ready to try solid foods. Experts recommend starting solid foods when a baby is about 6 months old, depending on the baby's readiness and nutritional needs.

Be sure to check with your doctor before giving any solid foods.

Is My Baby Ready to Eat Solid Foods?

How can you tell if your baby is ready for solids? Here are a few hints:

  • Does your baby swallow food or push it out of their mouth? Babies have a natural tongue-thrust reflex that pushes food back out. Wait until this reflex disappears (typically when babies are 4–6 months old). 
  • Can your baby support their own head? To eat solid food, an infant needs good head and neck control and should be able to sit up.
  • Is your baby interested in food? Babies who stare, reach and grab, and open their mouths for food are ready to try solid foods.

If your doctor gives the go-ahead but your baby seems frustrated or uninterested in solid foods, try waiting a few days before trying again. Breast milk and formula will still meet nutritional needs as your baby learns to eat solid foods. But after 6 months, babies need the added nutrition — like iron and zinc — that solid foods provide.

Do not add cereal or other food to your baby's bottle because it can lead to too much weight gain.

Watch for signs that your child is hungry or full. Respond to these cues and let your child stop when full. A child who is full may suck with less enthusiasm, stop, or turn away from the breast or the bottle. With solid foods, they may turn away, refuse to open their mouth, or spit the food out.

How Should I Start Feeding My Baby Solid Foods?

When your baby is ready and the doctor says it’s OK to try solid foods, pick a time of day when your baby is not tired or cranky. You want your baby to be a little hungry, but not so hungry that they’re upset. So you might want to give your baby a little breast milk or formula first.

Have your baby sit supported in your lap or in a high chair with a safety strap.

Most babies' first food is iron-fortified infant single-grain cereal mixed with breast milk or formula. Place the spoon near your baby's lips, and let the baby smell and taste it. Don't be surprised if this first spoonful is rejected. Wait a minute and try again. Most food offered to your baby at this age will end up on the baby's chin, bib, or high-chair tray. Again, this is just an introduction.

When your little one gets the hang of eating cereal off a spoon, it may be time to try single-ingredient puréed meat, vegetables, or fruit. The order in which you give them doesn't matter, but go slow. Offer foods that are high in iron and zinc — such as meat, poultry, eggs, and beans — especially if your baby is breastfeeding. Try one food at a time and wait several days before trying something else new. This will let you identify any foods that your baby may be allergic to.

Which Foods Should I Avoid?

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’re 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. 

Possible signs of food allergy or allergic reactions include:

  • rash
  • bloating or an increase in gassiness
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting

Get medical care right away if your baby has a more severe allergic reaction, like hives, drooling, wheezing, or trouble breathing.

If your child has any type of reaction to a food, don't offer that food again until you talk with your doctor.

Babies shouldn't have:

  • 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 beverages 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

Tips for Feeding Your Baby Solid Foods

With the hectic pace of family life, most parents try commercially prepared baby foods at first. They come in small, convenient containers, and manufacturers must meet strict safety and nutrition guidelines.

If you prepare your own baby foods at home, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Follow the rules for food safety, including washing your hands well and often.
  • To preserve the nutrients in your baby's food, cook it in ways that keep the most vitamins and minerals. Try steaming or baking fruits and vegetables instead of boiling, which washes away the nutrients.
  • Freeze portions that you aren't going to use right away.
  • Whether you buy the baby food or make it yourself, texture and consistency are important. At first, babies should have finely puréed single-ingredient foods. (Just applesauce, for example, not apples and pears mixed together.)
  • After your baby is eating individual foods, it's OK to offer a puréed mix of two foods. As babies get older, they will learn to eat a greater variety of tastes and textures. 
  • If you use prepared baby food in jars, spoon some of the food into a bowl to feed your baby. Do not feed your baby right from the jar — bacteria from the baby's mouth can contaminate the remaining food. If you refrigerate opened jars of baby food, it's best to throw away anything not eaten within a day or two.
  • Around 6 months of age is a good time for your baby to try a cup. You might need to try a few cups to find one that works for your child. Use water at first to avoid messy clean-ups. Do not give juice to infants younger than 12 months.

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.

Nutrition: why go into the jar? |

Should you feed your child commercial baby food or cook it yourself? When is it necessary to start accustoming a child to adult food and how to do it? These questions are of concern to many young mothers, not only when the time for the first feeding comes up, but also later, when the babies get older. We will try to understand some of the nuances of choosing industrial baby food and cooking food for babies at home.

The first question that mothers face when they need the first complementary foods is whether to buy cereals and mashed potatoes in the store or cook them on their own. Of course, the main thing at the same time is the benefits of products for the baby. Manufacturers claim that commercially prepared, vitamin-enriched meals are better than home-cooked foods, and many pediatricians support them in this. But in the minds of most parents there is a stereotype: a jar is preservatives and a lot of different not very useful additives. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine how useful mashed potatoes can be, which is stored for two years, and even at a temperature of 25 degrees.

In fact, the long shelf life of baby food is ensured by sterilization and packaging features. With proper storage, they can be used without fear, but it’s often impossible to find out how and where the jars were stored before they hit the counter. Moreover, some unscrupulous sellers interrupt expiration dates in order to sell expired goods - such mashed potatoes or porridge will definitely not bring any benefit to the baby. It remains to hope for the decency of the seller or cook it yourself, so as not to expose the baby to unnecessary risk.

“Industrial nutrition for young children makes life very easy for the mother. Firstly, instant porridges, they only need to be diluted, and secondly, they are well homogenized and designed specifically for a small age. But from ten months, of course, it is advisable to include porridge in the child's diet in the traditional version in order to teach the baby to chew food, stimulate chewing, ”explains Tatiana Tabak, head of the department of gastroenterology of the Chelyabinsk children's hospital No. 9.

However, no one forbids mothers to cook porridge for a young baby on their own, especially since today there are so many helpers in the form of double boilers, blenders and other equipment in the home kitchen. The main condition is to observe the dosages to obtain porridge of the required consistency and rinse the cereal before sending it to the pan. Up to a year, it is better to offer the baby low-allergenic cereals - rice, buckwheat, corn.

But vegetable and fruit purees are preferable to store-bought ones, especially in winter and early spring, doctors say. “By using commercially produced purees to feed children, we can give the child a wide range of vegetables and fruits, especially at a time of the year when their supply is very scarce. You can offer the baby and parsnips, and green beans, and green peas. The only thing is that you need to choose these jars correctly, - warns Tatyana Alekseevna. – Industrial purees are prepared with different degrees of grinding for each age. Homogenized purees are designed for the age of four months, at six months the baby can already be offered pureed puree, and from ten months - chopped with small pieces of vegetables and fruits. In jars, which are recommended from ten months, there are already good pieces, which again teach the child to chew. Unfortunately, a mother often takes a jar, looks at the composition of the products, and if it is indicated that it is recommended for children from five months, she buys it for her older child. It is not right. Children need to take food that is appropriate for their age.”

“When we started complementary foods, I was in favor of jars. I have seen enough advertisements, beautiful pictures in fashionable children's magazines, - says mother one and a half year old Ilyusha Anna . - For a couple of weeks, I honestly tried to cram canned cauliflower, pumpkin, potatoes into my child. Writhed, spat out. I had already decided that my son did not like vegetables. But then I decided to buy the same products, only natural ones. And you know, gobbles up both cheeks! I buy frozen cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, beans. I froze pumpkin, zucchini. There are always potatoes, carrots, and buying them in winter is not a problem. He eats this with pleasure. And diversifying the menu, having different ingredients, is very easy. For lunch, for example, zucchini, broccoli and spinach with meat, and for an afternoon snack, pumpkin and apple. I cook all the vegetables in a double boiler, it turns out delicious.

If you wish, it is really easy to prepare a vegetable dinner for your baby. To do this, you need to choose beautiful fruits without spots and cracks and rinse thoroughly under running water without soap. It is better to cook them for a couple, since when cooking, many useful substances pass into water, or bake. In this case, the loss of vitamins will be minimal. It is also possible to use frozen products: all useful substances are perfectly preserved in them. The finished vegetable must be chopped with a blender or rubbed through a sieve. You should not chop the vegetables that you give your child for the first time with a fork or a crush: the child’s body, most likely, will not be able to digest such mashed potatoes. Nothing is usually added to the first purees, especially sugar and salt, but in some cases it is possible to bring the puree to the desired consistency with breast milk or formula. Later, you can add a little vegetable oil.

Babies under one year old can be introduced into the diet of zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, green beans, pumpkin, potatoes, carrots. Closer to the year - corn and peas. It must also be remembered that mashed potatoes, beloved in our country, are a rather heavy dish, so it is advisable to mix potatoes with other vegetables. And one more thing: it is not recommended to warm up homemade purees, it is better for the baby to receive them freshly prepared.

As for fruits, they start with apples and pears. They can be given fresh - first scraped, then cut into pieces, added to porridge. In the form of mashed potatoes and baked fruits, any kid will also like it. Compotes are very useful, but it is better to postpone acquaintance with freshly squeezed juice for up to a year and a half and give it only in a diluted form.

Another question that worries many parents is at what age should a child be transferred to regular food? “I'm already exhausted. Everything I cook in the steamer goes into the bucket! One and a half years and a full mouth of teeth - and eats only canned food. I tried to give food in pieces, and crushed in a blender, and just from my plate - my mouth was locked and hysterical. How much longer can you hold on the banks? - asks young mother Olga Li .

“Introduce ordinary food, but well pureed, preferably from a year old. Up to two years, only chopped food is recommended, Tatyana Tabak advises. - You can’t give a child meat in pieces - he simply won’t chew it. For this age, minced meat is used with three passes through a fine grate of a meat grinder. Soups are only pureed. From two years old, you can already have soups with small vegetables, salads from raw vegetables, beef tongue, cut into small strips. And acquaintance with minced meat and goulash is better to postpone until three years. Until the same age, it is not advisable for children to give fresh pastries, it is better to replace them with dry cookies, and up to a year - with children's cookies.

As for milk and dairy products, which are so necessary for a baby, up to three years of age, doctors recommend using milk formulas rather than whole milk, at least for city dwellers. For children under six months, the first formula is produced, with a low protein content, safe for the kidneys and liver of a small child, in the second and third formulas its content is higher. Why is it undesirable to use whole milk? In the milk in the package, we only know the content of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, and what other vitamins are in it, what the cow ate, where she lived - it is not clear, therefore there is a risk. Children's milk is filtered by proteins, fats, carbohydrates, 15 vitamins and several microelements are also introduced there - this is fortified milk, which is more useful only fresh milk. However, the townspeople do not have the opportunity to drink it, only pasteurized is available here, in which there are practically no vitamins left.

Cooking or buying canned food? Should I give my baby formula or whole milk? Transfer a child to an adult table from a year or from two years? Definitive answers to these questions will never be found. It all depends on the preferences of the baby, the capabilities of the parents and many more nuances. It is only important to remember that the sooner a child begins to get acquainted with a wide variety of foods, the easier it will be in the future to adapt to any situation, including gastronomic, and the more useful vitamins and minerals it will receive. His health directly depends on this.

Russian Union of Pediatricians

Nutrition for children aged 1 to 3 years

The period from 1 to 3 years of life is a crucial stage in the transition to an adult type of nutrition, which has certain features. In order to ensure that all the necessary nutrients enter the child's body and at the same time prevent an excess of individual nutrients, nutrition should be balanced and varied.

The daily amount of food for children aged 1 to 1.5 years should be 1000-1200 g, from 1.5 to 3 years - 1200-1500, the amount of food in one feeding should not exceed 300-350 ml. The diet consists of three main meals per day and two snacks. It is considered optimal when breakfast is 25% of the total energy density of the diet, lunch is 30–35%, dinner is 20%, and additional meals are about 10%. In general, the child can eat the same food as the rest of the family.

In the diet of a child of 1-3 years of age , must be present daily: animal or poultry meat, dairy and sour-milk products, vegetables, fruits, bread, cereals, vegetable and butter; fish and eggs are included in the diet 2-3 times a week.

Cereal products: bread - 2-3 servings per day, cereals and side dishes - 1 time per day
Fruit and/or vegetables: at least 5 times a day
Dairy products: at least 3 servings per day (including those used to make cereals, yoghurts, fermented milk drinks, cottage cheese, infant formula or breast milk).

Domestic pediatricians recommend, when compiling a diet for children aged 1–3 years, preference should be given to specialized children's dairy products of industrial production that meet high quality requirements and safety indicators for this age. Most children's dairy products are additionally enriched with vitamins and/or minerals and other biologically active components, taking into account the physiological needs of children of this age. At the same time, in foreign recommendations, children over 1 year old are offered the gradual introduction of whole cow's milk, which is rich in fats necessary for proper growth and development, the absorption of vitamins A and D, the development of the brain and nervous system of the child.

Meat dishes: 2-3 times a day
Fish dishes: 2-3 servings per week
Eggs: 2-3 per week
Dietary fats: 3-4 teaspoons of butter and/or vegetable oils per day

When cooking, use the minimum amount of salt and sugar, and do not add them to industrial products.

Learn more