How to give solid food for baby
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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Teaching a child to solid food
The introduction of adult food is carried out gradually. It is necessary to accustom the child first to one product, then to others. Also, do not immediately take solid food - puree will be enough. If you are not in a hurry, if you are attentive enough to your child, there will be no problems. In this article, we will not talk about the introduction of complementary foods as such, but about the beginning of the use of solid foods. Chewing, swallowing are completely new skills for yesterday's baby. Someone masters them once or twice, other children need more time.
The structure of the maxillofacial system of the child is the main problem of all causes with chewing. The baby needs to make unusual efforts for him, carefully chew food.
The correct procedure for parents when introducing complementary foods:
• 4 months - liquid puree is introduced;
• 6 months - you can start to use puree with fibers or thick;
• 9 months - soft foods with chunks are fine.
After a year, you can give solid food - an apple, a pear, a cucumber, a piece of boiled chicken, etc. If 6-8 teeth grow earlier, these dates can be shifted. Some parents are guided by complementary feeding calendars, others are waiting for the child to ask for a certain product (usually from the parent's table).
Different types of purees
There are qualitatively different types of products among the presented range of canned food. Manufacturers take into account the child's ability to digest a particular product and the adaptation of the gastrointestinal tract for a particular type of food. The liquid puree is similar in consistency to pancake dough. If you dip a spoon into it, and then take it out, the puree will slowly drain. There is a thick puree - it retains its shape in a spoon, since there is not much liquid in the product. We are talking about the consistency of thick sour cream, but without dietary fiber. Fibrous purees have a similar consistency to thick purees, plus they often contain lumps and fibers.
Very thick puree may be diluted. For these purposes, breast milk, vegetable broth, or a mixture are usually used.
When the child is familiar with different types of purees, it will be possible to introduce solid food. They do this strictly according to the schedule - ordinary liquid purees are introduced after six months for naturalists, sometimes a little earlier for artificialists. Solid food will come in handy closer to a year old and later. Watch the baby's reaction - not only in terms of well-being, lack of allergies, but also in relation to personal tastes and preferences. Some children refuse certain foods completely - no need to force them.
To grind or not - see for yourself, but whole pieces are usually not given to children under one year old. There are babies who are ready to chew a piece of chicken breast for a long time, but there are not so many of them. If the food is smeared, use a nibbler - it will not have a banana on all the walls and furniture. Shredded food includes a product grated on a medium grater, but not turned into a thick or liquid puree. These include an apple from a blender, meat from a meat grinder, etc.
Soft foods like boiled vermicelli, boiled eggs, steamed rice porridge require chewing, but without much effort. Many parents begin after a year to give their child food from an adult table, this is a good option, the main thing is to cook diet meals. But the transition from formula and breast milk to adult food should be smooth.
Chewing difficulties: how not to choke
There is no universal recipe - you need to chew carefully, calmly, swallow one piece at a time. But this is all in theory - in practice, the parent sees how the child chewed and chewed a piece of food, began to swallow, and he got stuck. Insert your index finger into the mouth and, like a hook, take out food. You need to put your finger in from the side, from the corner of the mouth.
At 2 years of age, the child should be able to chew, swallow and use a spoon normally. Therefore, let your son or daughter eat on their own, despite the potential dirt that they will inevitably breed. Give up the idea of spoon-feeding a child before school and forcing them to eat food, rhymes and other traditional pastimes of our grandmothers.
Dad blog. We teach the child to solid food.
How to transition your baby from mashed potatoes to regular food
The introduction of solid food with pieces improves satiety and teaches the baby to chew, prepares him for the transition to a common table and trains speech skills. We are discussing how to transfer a child to solid food with puree and at the same time not provoke a refusal to eat, which can lead to health problems, with a pediatrician, medical consultant of the SMART-MAMA project, Polina Aleksandrovna Kizino.
— Polina Aleksandrovna, why do you start with pureed foods first?
— Classic complementary foods are introduced around 6 months or earlier. At this age, it is quite difficult for babies to coordinate the work of all the muscles of the oral cavity and chew hard pieces. Other than breast milk or formula, the baby has not tried anything yet. Therefore, if you give him hard pieces right away, he may not figure out what to do with them. In addition, for good absorption and easier swallowing, of course, pureed food is more suitable - cereals or mashed potatoes.
If, for some reason, a child begins to receive complementary foods at 7-8 months (that is, later than the recommended 4-6 months), it is acceptable to introduce products with very soft and small pieces, similar to mashed potatoes. Even if a child swallows such a piece without chewing, it will happen without discomfort and does not threaten to refuse food with pieces in the future.
— What should be the consistency of food in the first year of a baby's life?
- At the stage of introducing the first or second complementary foods, the nutritional consistency is required to be homogeneous, that is, completely homogeneous, without pieces, veins of vegetables or cereal flakes. As the baby matures, he is already able to eat vegetables mashed with a fork. Gradually, the pieces may become harder and larger. However, even if the baby eats pieces, this does not mean that homogeneous foods should be immediately excluded when learning to chew. He can get both.
— Why is solid food obligatory for children under one year old?
— It is necessary to transfer a child to solid food only because he will not eat homogeneous purees and cereals all his life. And as soon as the physiological ability to chew appears, the baby begins to chew soft food, even if he does not yet have teeth. If the baby remains on homogeneous food and does not learn to chew, then it will be difficult for him to switch to other foods, he will not want to eat in a new way.
When chewing, the oral apparatus develops: jaws, muscles, teeth. The skill of chewing is closely related not only to the maxillofacial system and food processing, but also to the formation of bite and the development of speech in a child.
— When should a child be moved to a common table with hard pieces?
- This happens differently for all children, but on average about 7-8 months. At the same time, solid pieces do not mean those products that need to be gnawed, but precisely what is different from homogeneous food.
All changes in the child's diet are introduced gradually. Imagine if he suddenly bites off a large piece that he cannot chew and starts swallowing - as a result, there is a risk of severe choking and choking. Or, at best, experience discomfort, so you don’t want to try this product again. In order not to provoke such situations, all transitions in a child's life must be carried out very smoothly.
— How do parents know when a child is ready for solid food?
— Apart from the age and positive reaction of the child to the proposed product, there are no other signs. Even teeth will not be a readiness factor for solid foods. But if parents delay the introduction of solid pieces and a child at 9-10 months old is not yet familiar with them, then he will not want to eat this and will demand mashed potatoes.
Constant choking on food, spitting up, restlessness of the baby are adverse reactions to the introduction of solid food. It makes sense to consult a pediatrician.
Undigested food in the stool may be normal and should not be a concern for parents. In order for food to begin to be fully absorbed, the body needs time to adapt to complementary foods. It is important to monitor the condition of the baby.
— How to transfer a child to a common table if he refuses solid food?
- Unfamiliar and "unpleasant" foods should be offered at the beginning of feeding while the baby is still hungry. If the baby starts breakfast or lunch with his favorite dish, then, having been a little full and realizing that he got what he wanted, he, of course, will refuse other food.
It is necessary to interest the child in literally all suitable ways:
- demonstrate interest in the product by example, praise its taste;
- offer "children's" food from one's own plate;
- put food on a pretty children's plate;
- beautifully decorate food on a plate, make “pictures”;
- praise for the eaten pieces.
All this does not distract from the process of eating, like cartoons, and does not disguise eating as a game. The food will be interesting for the child, and he will get pleasure and satisfaction from what he eats.
Praise from parents is especially important for babies older than one year. For the sake of keeping the parents happy, the child is sometimes ready to do something that he does not like.
— What food to offer first and what does the child's menu depend on?
- This can be any food, and not necessarily new dishes. But you need to gradually change the density and hardness of food, the size of the pieces. To help in getting to know the pieces, but not with chewing, a nibbler can. Let not all children love it, but this accessory is important for the safety of the child: with it, the baby will not swallow too large a piece and will not choke.
How to start introducing solid food
|Products||Familiar products, but not homogeneous, but of a different consistency - you just need to mash the vegetables with a fork, grind them larger, chop a piece on a fork or invite the baby to take the vegetable with your hand and bite off him on his own.|
|Quantity||Look at the child's reaction, his desire and ability.|
|Consistency||The softness of the product should be the same as, for example, a ripe banana, so that when swallowing, even without chewing, the baby does not experience pain, gag reflex and other unpleasant sensations. Subsequently, the food becomes more and more solid.|
|Order of administration||One new product is administered over three to four days to monitor the response. Moreover, it should be exactly the same for the same product in both hard and soft form.|
|Piece size||Start with pieces about the size of a pea. You need to pay attention to how the child will chew the boiled "peas" of food. With their softness, there is practically no risk of choking and it is unlikely that a piece will get stuck.|
— How often should there be hard pieces in the diet? A child can eat only homogeneous purees all day, and then all day - only pieces. In addition, food chopped in different ways can be mixed in one dish, but so that the baby understands that in the spoon he has not only mashed potatoes, but also pieces. Then he will count on what he will have to chew. Food should be washed down - WHO recommends the mandatory introduction of water at the start of complementary foods.
- Rusks, bagels or whole fruits - when can they be introduced?
- Hard crackers and fruits can be in the diet for up to a year, but at a time when the baby still has no or few teeth and he will definitely not bite off, but lick or procrastinate treats. The child grinds boiled potatoes, carrots, broccoli well with gums, but cannot chop solid foods from the adult menu. It is right to give them in pedagogical complementary foods in order to introduce the baby to different tastes.
Be aware that when the incisors appear, the child may bite off a large enough piece that he cannot chew. Therefore, it is better for parents not to take risks if they cannot control the size of the pieces. A large unchewed lump of food causes pain and vomiting when it cannot penetrate the esophagus due to its size.
— How to teach a child to chew hard pieces?
- Other than constantly offering to try pieces, there are no special exercises that would help a child learn to chew before the age of one.