How to start feeding baby
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:
- bloating or an increase in gassiness
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.
Your Baby's Growth: 4 Months (for Parents)
Babies this age continue to grow — in size, physical skills, and their ability to interact with the world.
Many of the new skills they're learning will come in handy for eating solid food. In fact, some time over the next few months, your baby may get that first taste of food beyond breast milk or formula. Although breast milk or formula will continue to be the main source of nourishment, your baby can start to explore different tastes and textures.
As long as your baby continues to grow steadily, eating habits shouldn't be a cause for concern. Your baby will be ready to start eating puréed foods when she can sit well without need for support and has lost the tongue-thrust reflex (pushing solids out of the mouth with the tongue).
How Much Will My Baby Grow?
By 4 months, many babies have doubled their birth weight. This month, babies gain about 1 to 1¼ pounds (560 grams) and about 0.8 inches (2 centimeters) in length.
Since your child's birth, the doctor has been recording growth in weight, length, and head size (circumference) during your regular well-baby visits. The doctor tracks these numbers on standard growth charts. Ask your doctor to show you your baby's growth record. By now, you should begin to see a personal growth curve emerging — expect your child to continue growing along this curve.
Should I Be Concerned?
Is my baby big enough? Is my child destined to be tall or short? Parents often worry about growth and may compare a baby with siblings and peers. It's important to remember that kids come in a wide range of shapes and sizes.
Growth depends on many factors, including:
- genes passed on by the parents (kids tend to resemble their parents in height)
- the amount and quality of food a child eats
- overall health
- the functioning of the hormones that control growth
Based on the growth chart, the doctor can determine whether your child is growing as expected. If at any time you're concerned about your baby's weight or growth in general, discuss your worries with your doctor.
In response to your concerns, the doctor may ask you these questions:
- How many feedings a day does your baby get?
- How much does your baby eat at each feeding?
- How long does a breastfeeding baby nurse at each feeding?
- What else are you feeding your baby?
- How frequent are your baby's bowel movements? What do they look like?
- How often does your baby pee?
The doctor also may ask questions about your baby's health and development. All these things together will help the doctor decide if your baby is growing at an appropriate rate. The doctor may recommend tests if he or she thinks there may be a problem that needs to be addressed.
Premature babies may still be behind in size compared with their full-term peers, but they should also be growing steadily at their own rate.
What About the Chubby Baby?
With all the concern about childhood obesity, parents may worry that their baby is getting too fat. A few babies and toddlers are overweight. For these children, advice from the baby's doctor can be useful.
Never withhold food from a baby in an attempt to cause weight loss. To grow and develop as they should, babies need proper nutrition, including fat, in their diet. For the first year, breast milk or formula should continue to be their main source of nourishment.
It's safe to introduce solid foods at around 6 months for breastfed and formula-fed babies. When the time is right, start with a single-grain cereal for babies (rice cereal has traditionally been the first food for babies). Then introduce other foods, such as puréed fruits and vegetables. Your doctor can advise you on how much of each food to give, but pay close attention to your baby's cues that he or she has had enough.
Your baby's rapid growth will start to slow down during the second half of the first year. But expect big changes in the coming months as your baby becomes more mobile.
Reviewed by: Cristy A. Wong, MD
Date reviewed: January 2019
at what age to introduce with breastfeeding and artificial feeding, how to cook at home
When to introduce the first complementary foods
Today there are no hard and fast rules and deadlines for the introduction of complementary foods. Parents should first of all focus on the signs of the child's readiness for complementary foods. Here is what pediatrician, candidate of medical sciences Anna Levadnaya advises to pay attention to , the author of a blog about pediatrics and not only on Instagram.
The child holds his head confidently.
- Can sit with support, meaning it can be placed in a high chair or placed on an adult's lap.
- The kid shows an active interest in food: he is interested in food, he watches what adults eat.
- Breastfeeding or formula feeding is well organized and does not cause any problems.
- The child can put his hand to his mouth, puts various objects in his mouth, such as toys. In this case, the baby chews or champs.
As a rule, all these signs appear in the period from 5.5 to 7.5 - 8 months, but most often around 6 months. All babies develop differently, and one baby may be ready to try his first puree or porridge as early as 5 months, and another at 6 or 7 months will refuse the new food you offer.
What complementary foods a child needs in the first months
Again, there are no strict recommendations and rules. On the contrary, many experts agree that it doesn’t matter which dish you start complementary foods with, the most important thing is to provide the right nutritional interest. In this case, the child will eat all the foods that you offer him.
In Russia, it is customary to focus on the following scheme for the introduction of complementary foods. The first to introduce cereals or vegetables, depending on the weight of the child. As a rule, vegetables are first, then cereals, then meat, then fruits, then cottage cheese. In some US states, for example, on the contrary, it is recommended to start complementary foods with meat. But the general message of the recommendations is to maximize the variety of tastes and textures in the first year of life. From vegetables in the first months, you can offer zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin, carrots, potatoes. Of the cereals, gluten-free are the first to be introduced: rice, buckwheat, corn. From fruits - apple, pear, banana, peach and others. From meat - it is better to start with a rabbit, turkey, chicken, veal.
— At the very beginning, complementary foods should be puree-like, says Anna Levadnaya. - It is better to give preference to monocomponent purees so that the baby learns to distinguish between different tastes. As you introduce vegetables and cereals, add butter and vegetable oils to them. If there are no problems with the introduction of complementary foods, it is recommended to use the maximum variety of food textures as early as possible. Starting from 7-8 months, the baby can and should be introduced to semi-solid foods. This is very important for the correct formation of food interest, and for the development of chewing skills, the correct functioning of the tongue, the development of speech, the “tweezer” grip, and the coordination of the work of hands, mouth and eyes. If you do not introduce semi-solid food in time, then there may be problems with the introduction of already solid food, and after a year the child will refuse it completely. Therefore, starting from 7-8 months, the baby can be offered mashed or pureed food, such as a banana. From 8-9months, give the so-called "finger" food: cut into pieces soft fruits and vegetables, such as boiled carrots, potatoes, and put in front of the baby. By one year, the child is ready to eat solid food from the common table.
How to properly feed your baby
It used to be that complementary foods should be introduced very carefully and gradually, always in the morning, many parents still introduce each product over a week or two, very slowly increasing portions.
- These recommendations are relevant, perhaps, only for the very beginning of complementary foods, the first two or three weeks, - says Anna Levadnaya. - In general, in children without food allergies, the most rapid and varied expansion of the diet is recommended. That is, a new product can be safely introduced every 2-3 days. If you need to breed complementary foods, for example, baby cereals, then it is better to do this with breast milk or formula, and not with cow's. Whole milk is not recommended for children under one year of age.
Also with the introduction of complementary foods, offer your child water, either bottled for children or boiled. It is recommended to offer water from a cup so that the child learns to drink, and not from a drinking bowl, a bottle with a tube or a pacifier.Photo: pexels.com, MART PRODUCTION
Monitor the child's well-being, in case of any changes that worry you, consult a doctor.
Complementary foods with natural and artificial feeding
Mothers often wonder if there are differences in the introduction of complementary foods with natural and artificial feeding. In both cases, the recommendations are the same: it is recommended to focus on food interest, signs of the child's readiness for the introduction of complementary foods. Usually, as we have already noted, the baby receives only breast milk or an adapted milk formula up to 6 months. With exclusive breastfeeding, it is not recommended to supplement the baby with water, especially in the first month, when lactation is established. Bottle-fed babies can be offered water.
For both breastfeeding and artificial feeding, it is recommended to offer the baby a new food before feeding, and then supplement it with breast milk or formula.
— It is desirable to keep breast milk or formula in the diet of a child up to a year, — says Anna Levadnaya. - After a year, it is better to leave the bottle completely, gradually reducing the amount of the mixture. After a year, preferably closer to one and a half, cow's milk can be offered if the child is not allergic to its protein. Breastfeeding can be continued as long as it brings pleasure to mother and child.
How to prepare the first complementary foods
Give canned puree and baby cereals or cook it yourself? This question worries many mothers.
“In fact, there is no universal advice here,” says Anna Levadnaya. - Do what is comfortable and best for you. But when choosing food, remember that you must be confident in the products you buy. If you are not sure, buy canned purees, industrial baby cereals. The main advantage of any industrial baby food is that the products from which it is made are tested for the content of pesticides, heavy metals, nitrates and other harmful substances (labeled up to 3 years). If you're cooking yourself, cook with either seasonal fruits and vegetables or frozen ones. It is best to do it for a couple - this is how most vitamins and minerals are preserved. The advantage of homemade products is that we can provide the child with a different consistency, which is very important. But in any case, choose what is more convenient for you, more comfortable, including financially. The main principle is to provide the baby with a varied diet. Alternate between different foods.Photo: pexels.com, Enrique Hoyos
If you decide to cook on your own, follow our tips on how to prepare puree and porridge for the first feeding.
Zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, pumpkin are suitable for the first feeding. The vegetable should be fresh, without dark spots. We clean it from the peel, boil or steam it. Then we pass through a blender. The vegetable should be quite soft to get the most uniform consistency (if necessary, you can add a little boiled water). If it did not work out, then additionally the mass can be rubbed through a fine sieve.
To prepare fruit puree for your baby, such as apple or pear puree, fruit must first be baked in the oven, then peeled and passed through a blender or sieve to obtain the most homogeneous consistency. Choose fresh, ripe, seasonal fruits.
Soak cereals (for the first feeding, we remind you, this is rice, buckwheat, corn) for 4-5 hours in warm water. Then dry, for example, in a preheated oven. Next, grind the porridge in a coffee grinder into the consistency of flour and cook in water until cooked, this is about 5 minutes. For one tablespoon you need about 50-70 ml of water.
The main mistakes of parents
In fact, there is nothing complicated in the management of complementary foods. Use the guidelines, common sense, and have fun introducing your little one to new foods. With Anna Levadna, we have compiled a list of mistakes that parents often make when introducing complementary foods. Try to avoid them.
In a hurry
It often happens that a child refuses the first complementary foods. Most often, this suggests that the baby is simply not ready for it yet. And the parents, by hook or by crook, are trying to feed him mashed potatoes or porridge. Under no circumstances should you force-feed your baby. It is worth postponing the introduction of complementary foods for one to two weeks.
Give mashed food from a bottle
Do not do this because the child must learn to eat liquid and solid food separately.
Add salt or sugar
These components are not recommended to be introduced into complementary foods for a child under one year old, sugar is better up to three years old.
Only the bottle is used too long
For example, in addition to formula, if the child is on IV, they give water, compote and other drinks from the bottle. The danger is that long-term use of the bottle can reduce the child's desire to eat complementary foods and malocclusion, as well as lead to speech delay and swallowing problems. From 6-8 months, offer your baby to drink from a cup.
Children are not allowed to play with food
But freedom in dealing with food, the desire to take a spoon, move it around the plate and on the table, touch the food, knead it, and so on, is the key to a successful introduction of complementary foods.
Introduction of complementary foods to an infant
Breast milk contains enzymes, essential amino acids, antibodies, vitamins and other substances necessary for the growth and development of the baby. However, with age (between 6-24 months, according to WHO), the needs of the child change, and then it is necessary to introduce complementary foods. At the same time, it is not necessary to immediately turn off breastfeeding (WHO recommends breastfeeding until 2 years of age). Anna Aleksandrovna Tsaregorodtseva, a CTA pediatrician, spoke about how to competently introduce new foods into a child's diet.
You can start feeding your baby if:
- He is 6 months old or older.
- He holds his head well.
- Can touch his mouth with his hand and actively "chews" various objects.
- If you put him in a high chair or on an adult's lap, the child will be able to sit.
- He has a food interest: when adults eat, the baby watches, pulls his hands and wants to try.
The first foods should be puréed to make it easier for the baby to digest them!
As a rule, the child is first introduced to vegetables. If you want to introduce vegetables from jars, then it is better to buy mono-products - so that the puree contains only zucchini or only broccoli, etc. It is best to start with zucchini. After that, you can enter cauliflower, then broccoli, then potatoes, pumpkin and carrots.
Enter at lunchtime (12-15 hours) and no more than one product at a time. Vegetable puree (like any other complementary foods) is given before breastfeeding or formula, 1 teaspoon. The next day, you need to observe the skin and stool of the child and do not give him complementary foods, but only breastfeed! If the body perceives the new product normally, in a day you can give 2 tsp already. zucchini. According to the same scheme - if everything is in order, you can increase the amount to 3 tsp. Gradually give more complementary foods (up to 5 spoons) and less and less often supplement the child with milk. When the volume of vegetables in the diet is approximately 150-200 g per day, you can stop breastfeeding your baby at this meal.
How to enter a new dish
The 2nd dish (cauliflower) must be added to the one already entered. That is, 5 tsp. zucchini and 1 tsp. cauliflower. On the "fasting day" you can give 5 tsp. zucchini, but discard the cabbage and watch. As a result, you will give the baby 5 tsp. zucchini and 5 tsp. cauliflower.
Then you can enter the 3rd dish - broccoli - and then other vegetables. When the child is familiar with different vegetables, vegetable mixtures can be introduced.
If you want to feed your child with home-cooked vegetables, then note that it is best to boil vegetables in a double boiler. So it will be possible to save vitamins and minerals.
Fruits and berries
When the child digests vegetables well, fruits can be added to the diet. It is better to give them from jars. The time for the introduction of fruit is an afternoon snack (16-18 hours).
As the first fruit, it is better to take an apple, then a pear, then a prunes. The scheme is the same: 1 tsp. applesauce before breastfeeding. The next day, you do not give fruit and feed the child vegetables that he is already used to. A day later, the amount of applesauce increases to 2 tsp. and so on.
When complementary foods are introduced, the child should be offered bottled or boiled water. Pour water into a cup so that your baby does not get used to a bottle with a pacifier. Children drink well from a cup from birth!
You can also introduce ground cereals into the diet, gradually adding butter or vegetable oil to them. If this is baby porridge and needs to be diluted with liquid, then it is better to use mother's milk or a mixture, rather than cow's.