How to start infant on 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.
- 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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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.
How to teach a child to eat right?
September 09, 2021 read 5-7 minutes
It is difficult to persuade children, and especially teenagers, to eat normally. They eat chips, hamburgers and flatly refuse vegetables and a normal dinner. We tell you how to improve a child's relationship with food and what to do if they are already spoiled.
What does right mean
A balanced diet is a way to cover all the energy costs of a child for harmonious growth and development. With the right diet, a sufficient amount of nutrients ensures a normal metabolism and gives the child the strength to explore the world.
“According to domestic and foreign recommendations,” explains GMS Clinic pediatrician Maria Fadeeva, “every day a child’s diet should contain: vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates: cereals, potatoes, bread, pasta, protein-rich foods: meat, fish, eggs, legumes , nuts, dairy products: milk, cheese, yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese; infant formula or breast milk for infants as needed, vegetable and animal oils, water. ” nine0003
That is, in order to develop normally, it is enough for a child to eat some fruits, vegetables, protein, complex carbohydrates and dairy products every day. The form of preparation is not so important. It is not necessary to cook soups or cereals every day if the child does not eat them.
“Soup is a cooking option,” says Maria Fadeeva, “if the child refuses it, you can offer the same products in a different form. The temperature of the food should be comfortable, very hot food should not be consumed. nine0003
The volume of the diet depends on the physical activity of the child, age and lifestyle. Children eat more during periods of active growth and activity, but less when they are sick or at home for long periods. Parents often think that the child eats little. But if it is active and grows well, then there is enough food.
With a real lack of nutrients, he sleeps more, is nervous, complains of weakness and cannot walk for a long time. Nails break and peel easily, the skin peels off, and cracks may appear in the corners of the lips. nine0003
“We need to discuss the diet with the pediatrician,” says Maria Fadeeva, “if the child lags behind in development, gains weight poorly and grows slowly. And also there is excess weight and problems with the stool: constipation, diarrhea. There may be complaints of nausea, heartburn, belching and abdominal pain.
Why it matters
Unhealthy eating affects not only the physical and mental state of the child. Children who do not eat properly are at risk for developing obesity and eating disorders, that is, the formation of an unhealthy attitude to food. Such a disorder can develop in a situation where food becomes not a source of energy, but a cause for anxiety and negative emotions. nine0003
According to the candidate of psychological sciences, child psychologist at the Fantasy clinic Yulia Sebeleva, there are three main risk factors for developing eating disorders:
- Genetic. Several genes are known to significantly increase the risk of developing ED.
- Psychogenic, it is associated with experienced complex traumatic events. RPP in this case may arise as an option for adaptation to a difficult situation. nine0037 Stereotypes and attitudes about bodily standards and a shift in body image towards thinness.
“Some nutritional features,” says Yulia Sebeleva, “even in infancy can be risk factors for the development of eating disorders: infant refusal to breastfeed, babies and children who transmit and do not feel full. But usually, these features are combined with a high level of maternal anxiety in the early period of communication with the child. It can be postpartum depression, personal beliefs about food, family eating habits.” nine0003
How to develop good eating habits
An important recommendation is a family example when parents change their lifestyle and start eating right. Switching to a healthy diet is difficult, especially if you perceive it as a restriction for the sake of the child. But if a teenager constantly hears about the benefits of vegetables from parents with chips in their hands, there will be no benefit from this.
“If it is customary in a family to eat not very healthy food,” says Yulia Sebeleva, “then it is not surprising that the child will also eat like this. But such habits can be corrected if the whole family reconsiders the importance of a culture of eating behavior and includes the formation of healthy eating habits to take care of themselves and their loved ones. nine0003
It is also important when parents treat food calmly and do not force them to eat up. The child should not eat half of the adult portion or everything that the parents see fit to put on the children's plate. Therefore, there is no need to be ashamed of half-eaten porridge or talk about starving African children in order to arouse feelings of guilt.
“When parents force them to eat,” Yulia Sebeleva warns, “it’s traumatic and increases the risk of an eating disorder.” nine0003
From an early age, it is useful to encourage an exploratory interest in food, not to be afraid to try different foods so that the child expands his taste sensations and does not think that food can be dangerous.
“I like the idea of pedagogical complementary foods,” says Yulia Sebeleva, “when a mother gives the baby a piece to try what she eats herself. It does not have to be chewed and swallowed, sometimes it is enough to give it a taste for study. nine0003
There are other ways to form good eating habits:
- Giving choice. It is good when there are several dishes on the table, if the child does not eat salads, separately cut vegetables can attract his attention and interest.
- Change the form of serving products. There are children who do not eat cottage cheese, but they try the cottage cheese casserole with pleasure.
- Do not use gadgets while eating. We have already talked about this. Enthusiastic children do not notice what they eat and in what quantities, so they eat more and do not notice the process of eating food. nine0038
- Host family dinners. Gather together at the table, involve children in cooking, tell what food is made of and why you need to add seasonings. During dinner, it is better not to sort things out. At this time, it is not worth scolding the child for daily misdeeds, so that the family meal does not turn into an unpleasant duty.
- Don't ban unhealthy food. Prohibitions and strict restrictions lead to the fact that a child can greedily pounce on chips or cakes as soon as he gets out of parental control. nine0038
- Add physical activity. Children eat better after an energy expenditure, so walking, sports classes or other activities can increase appetite and draw attention to healthy food.
- Don't rush. Constant remarks about slowness only reduce the desire to sit at the table. It is better to plan more time for food in advance.
“After 1-2 years, the appearance of food becomes important,” says Maria Fadeeva, “there is a training in food intake norms. Therefore, it is worth setting the table beautifully, using bright dishes, combining products of several colors. Do not feed your child in front of the TV, let the process of eating be conscious.” nine0003
Outside the home, it is more difficult to establish food. Unaccustomed food and lack of choice at school or kindergarten lead to the fact that the child does not eat well or buys buns, chips and other junk food at breaks.
“Unfortunately, the quality of food in schools and kindergartens,” Yulia says, “is a serious problem. The very fact of getting used to other foods can be stressful for children. In each individual case, it is necessary to come up with possible ways of adaptation for the child. For some, this is the search for snacks that you can take with you. Other children get used to it over time and start eating school food.” nine0003
As Maria Fadeeva says, snacks should be easy to eat, keep out of the refrigerator for a long time and have the right composition.
“Suitable for a snack,” says Maria Fadeeva. - neatly cut fresh vegetables and fruits, dried fruits, berries, whole grain bread, cheese, yogurt. It is better to use a container with compartments so that the food is not smeared and mixed into an "incomprehensible mass". You can invite the child to participate in filling the lunch box himself. nine0003
What to do if the child does not eat healthy food
If he is already used to eating improperly and this affects his health, then first of all, you need to reconsider the family approach to food. Remove all unhealthy food from the house, offer fruits, nuts and vegetables for snacks.
There is no need to criticize the appearance - this will not help improve nutrition, but it can exacerbate teenage problems and worries. It is better to tell how healthy food helps to improve the appearance and condition of the skin. nine0003
“If conventional methods are ineffective,” Maria Fadeeva warns, the help of specialists may be required: a pediatrician, a gastroenterologist, a psychologist.
If a child refuses to eat, constantly says that he is fat, inadequately evaluates his appearance, or talks about diets all the time - these may be the first signs of an eating disorder. In this case, you need to seek help from a psychologist or psychotherapist. Family therapy may be needed, as most eating disorders in children are related to parental attitudes. nine0003
“If parents notice that a child has difficulties in dealing with food,” Yulia warns, “this is a signal to restore parent-child relations and search for the causes of violations together with a specialist.”
Important to remember
- The five-food rule helps to form a good menu for a child
- Soup is an optional part of the diet if the child receives the same amount of the same substances from other meals
- Children eat more during periods of growth or good physical activity
- The risk of an eating disorder is higher if the child is forced to eat something that he does not like
- The best way to build a child's relationship with food is parental example
- If a child is obsessed with food or refusing it, you need to contact a psychologist.
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How to teach a child to eat healthy? Healthy meals for kids for breakfast, lunch and dinner! nine0001
Proper nutrition plays a very important role in a child's development. A love for healthy foods and proper eating habits should be formed in a baby from a very early age. It is much easier to teach a child a harmonious diet than to “retrain” an adult teenager. It is very important for parents to explain to their children that proper nutrition is the key to the health of the whole organism, to help form a culture of healthy eating.
A child needs to eat fully and varied, because the correct growth and development of the body can only occur if he receives a complete set of necessary elements, vitamins and minerals. A person can get most of these substances from food, the main thing is to eat rationally and in a balanced way. The child's body needs vitamins A, B, C, D, E, H, K, PP, sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, iron and copper, manganese, molybdenum, cobalt, chromium, selenium, iodine, silicon and sulfur. nine0003
Special attention should be paid to the needs of the child's body in proteins, fats, carbohydrates and calories. Below is a table for children of different ages.
Age in years
Proteins in g
|nine0004 Fats in g
Carbohydrates in g
3 - 4
5 - 6
7 - 10
11 - 13
There is no need to calculate the fats or carbohydrates consumed by the child to the gram, if this is not medically necessary (for example, overweight problems). It is enough to remember that the food should be varied, balanced and healthy (no - chips, soda and other harmful simple carbohydrates). nine0003
How to teach a child to eat healthy?
Proper nutrition can be difficult for children (as well as for many adults): for some reason, you want a chocolate bar, not an apple. The sooner you start teaching your child to eat healthy, the easier it will be. How exactly to do it:
- Allow your child to determine their own portion size.
Do not force a child to finish eating food if he has already eaten - so the child will not learn to listen to his body, he will not learn to understand whether he is still hungry or not. It is important to trust the child and talk with him about what this or that product is for. So the kid will understand that pasta is cool, but fish is protein, those very bricks, without which he cannot grow up big and strong. In this format, healthy eating for children becomes more interesting and understandable. Young children (if they are healthy) perfectly regulate their appetite: if the child is healthy, he will eat when he is hungry. nine0003
- Make healthy food available.
Let there be sliced carrots, cucumbers or apples on the table, and not just dried ones. The same applies to snacks: it is better to offer the child a vegetable or fruit than a sweet cookie.
- Offer a new product several times.
It may take time for a child to try a new product. Don't give up after a few tries (or even after 10 tries). Yes, the child may not like celery, but give them both a chance. nine0003
- Lead by example.
Difficult, but very effective. Watch what you eat, how you react to food, whether you show interest in new foods.
- Separate the concept of "dessert" and "delicacy".
Dessert is healthy sweets, fruits. Treats are chips, chocolates, etc. Desserts you eat every day, treats - no.
- Refuse to watch TV while eating (in the same category - games on the tablet, "sitting" on the phone). nine0004 Let this be a rule for everyone: while eating, you communicate with each other, but not with devices.
- Do not make "forbidden fruit" out of food.
The child must be able to make a choice (yes, sometimes it may well be in favor of chips). It is important to form a healthy relationship with food, without prohibitions and strict “you must eat it!”.
- Offer the same product in multiple formats.
Spinach can be not only "terrible tasteless" spinach, but also cool green pancakes, juicy smoothies or "alien" soup. Thanks to modern technology, the process of preparing healthy food for a child does not cause difficulties. We will tell you more about such a device - the AGU Octopy 5in1 baby food processor - below. nine0003
The AGU Octopy 5 in 1 baby food processor is a great device for preparing healthy meals that the whole family will love. It combines many useful features:
- Steam cooking using 2 settings depending on the type of food, preserving nutrients
- Blender with 2 speed settings for different food textures;
- Keep food warm 1 to 8 hours; nine0038
- Uniform and fast heating of baby bottles and baby food jars;
- Sterilization of bottles and accessories;
- Self-cleaning mode and descaling the water tank.
The device does not take up much space and fits perfectly into the design of any kitchen. The AGU Octopy processor makes it easy to prepare a variety of delicious and healthy meals for children for all meals. You will find some recipes for dishes below in our article. nine0003
Recipe for breakfast for a child - Steamed carrot cutlets.
Ingredients: 3 large carrots, 4 tablespoons semolina, 2 eggs, salt and pepper to taste.
Cooking process: Peel the carrots, cut into small pieces and load into the processor. Use blender mode. Add semolina, eggs, spices to chopped carrots, mix and leave for 20 minutes. Shape into patties and place in a steaming bowl; cook 25 minutes. Boil buckwheat or rice for a side dish. nine0003
Recipe for lunch for a child - Vegetable puree soup
Ingredients: 150 grams potatoes, ½ medium squash, ½ small onion, 1 medium carrot, spinach, 50 grams broccoli, salt to taste.