Self weaning baby foods
11 Foods for Baby-Led Weaning and What Foods to Avoid
By Gabrielle McPherson, MS, RDN, LDN on February 21, 2022 — Medically reviewed by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD, Nutrition
Around 6 months of age, babies get to spark their taste buds by adding foods to their otherwise breast milk- or formula-based diet. Many caregivers look forward to the opportunity to watch their babies respond to a variety of new colors, textures, and flavors.
Babies may be spoon-fed infant purees, the typical approach in Western society, or they may feed via the baby-led weaning (BLW) method.
BLW is characterized by infants feeding themselves small pieces of soft foods they can pick up independently. Proponents of this method claim that it offers benefits such as improved appetite regulation and motor skills (1).
This article presents the best and worst baby-led weaning foods.
Avocados are fruits known for being highly nutritious. They are an ideal food for babies and adults alike. It’s no secret that babies grow rapidly in the first year of life and need adequate nutrition to support this.
This easily mashable fruit is typically famed for its healthy fat content, but it’s also packed with fiber, potassium, folate, copper, and vitamin E (2).
Only 5% of Americans meet their adequate intake (AI) for daily fiber. This nutrient is known to enhance digestion and help reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease (3).
In a study in young children, those with high fiber intakes also had greater intakes of key brain-boosting nutrients for babies, including iron, folate, and vitamin B6. So, feeding your baby avocado and other fiber-rich foods will provide them with many beneficial nutrients (4).
- 6–8-month-olds: Cut a ripe avocado into slices about the width of an adult finger for easy gripping.
- 9–12-month-olds: Cut a ripe avocado into small cubes or chunks.
Though it’s not necessarily a mess-free option for your baby, yogurt is a taste bud-friendly food with calcium, protein, and gut health benefits. Yogurt is a cultured dairy product, meaning that it contains healthy probiotic bacteria cultures such as Lactobacillus (5).
Probiotics play a prominent role in digestive health and can benefit young children who experience tummy troubles such as diarrhea and constipation (6, 7).
For example, in a 2019 study of 82,485 Japanese infants, researchers found that eating yogurt at least 3 times weekly significantly lowered the risk of stomach inflammation (8).
Whole milk yogurt comes in a variety of flavors that might be sweetened with added sugars. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025 recommend that children under age 2 avoid added sugars (9).
The American Heart Association also discourages added sugars in young children because increased added sugar intake may increase heart disease risks by elevating blood pressure and triglycerides (10, 11).
Therefore, the better option for infants is unsweetened whole milk yogurt.
Not only are they affordable and easy to prep, but eggs are also chock-full of nutrients such as protein, vitamins D and A, and choline. In fact, eggs are one of the top sources of dietary choline, which is essential for the development of babies’ brains and eyes (12).
Studies show choline levels are positively aligned with academic achievement in children and information processing speed in babies (12, 13).
Keep in mind that it’s critical to offer only fully cooked eggs to babies to reduce the risk of food poisoning from Salmonella exposure.
Salmonella is a bacteria found in many foods, including eggs, that can cause sickness if the contaminated food isn’t properly cooked before eating. Babies are at high risk of food poisoning symptoms because of their naturally weak immune systems (14).
You can tell that an egg is hard-boiled and safe for your baby if it’s cooked until both the yellow and white parts of the egg are firm (15).
- 6–8-month-olds: Bring water to a boil and hard-boil eggs for 15 minutes. Cut the egg into quarters or strips.
- 9–12-month-olds: Bring water to a boil and hard-boil eggs for 15 minutes. Dice the egg. You can also scramble an egg and cut it into small pieces.
Carrots come in many colors, including orange, yellow, and purple, with each color offering unique nutrients.
Carotenoids are a type of nutrient that is converted into vitamin A in the body. As such, carrots offer babies vitamin A, an essential vitamin for keeping the immune system in good shape (16, 17).
Specifically, lutein is a carotenoid found in carrots. It helps with vision and may contribute to brain growth (18, 19).
- 6–8-month-olds: Peel and cut carrots into sticks about the width of an adult finger. Steam or boil the carrot sticks until soft.
- 9–12-month-olds: Peel and chop carrots. Steam or boil until soft.
Tofu is a calcium-rich, soft, plant-based food that’s an excellent option for babies.
A single slice of tofu offers 10% of your baby’s Daily Value of calcium. Babies rely on this mineral to develop and maintain healthy bones (20, 21).
- 6–8-month-olds: Follow package instructions to squeeze out excess water. Cut into wide sticks your baby can grip. Warm the sticks by placing them in the microwave for 10 seconds, or lightly pan-fry to make them lightly crisp for gripping.
- 9–12-month-olds: Follow package instructions to squeeze out excess water. Cut into bite-size cubes your baby can pick up. Warm the cubes by placing them in the microwave for 10 seconds, or lightly pan-fry them.
Some parents worry about giving meat and fish to babies and consider delaying introduction of these foods. However, rest assured that babies can gain a ton of nutritional benefits from these protein-rich foods.
Meat and fish are important for babies, offering essential nutrients for growth and development, including easily absorbable iron, vitamin A, vitamins B6 and B12, and zinc (22, 23).
Because BLW may lead to lower iron intake, parents using BLW are encouraged to add foods rich in iron to every meal (22, 23).
Other iron sources include lentils, spinach, and fortified breakfast cereals (24).
Zinc plays a significant role in brain function, nerve development, and memory. Older babies are at a higher risk of zinc deficiency because their zinc needs increase as they age (25).
Meat and fish are primary sources of zinc. If your family follows a vegetarian diet, oatmeal, ground chia seeds, and brown rice are other sources of zinc for older babies (26).
- 6–8-month-olds: Offer fully cooked, soft, finely shredded chicken, turkey, beef, salmon, or pork.
- 9–12-month-olds: Offer fully cooked shredded or ground meat or small pieces of salmon.
Babies fed BLW-style can eat apples to help meet their needs for vitamin C.
Vitamin C-rich foods can help babies’ bodies absorb iron from iron-containing foods. Further, if infants don’t get enough vitamin C in their diets, they’re at risk of connective tissue problems from a condition called scurvy (27, 28,29).
- 6–8-month-olds: Peel, cut into wedges, and cook apples until soft. Sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon.
- 9–12-month-olds: Offer your older baby peeled, shredded raw apples.
A popular root vegetable, sweet potatoes are a well-liked baby-friendly food that’s easy to prepare.
Sweet potatoes contain fiber, a necessary nutrient for healthy digestion. In fact, a low fiber intake is associated with constipation, so sweet potatoes may help keep your baby comfortably regular (30, 31).
- 6–8-month-olds: Cook a whole sweet potato. Peel and cut into strips the width of an adult finger.
- 9–12-month-olds: Cook a whole sweet potato. Peel and cut into small chunks your baby can pick up.
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Oats are a whole grain rich in fiber, copper, selenium, zinc, and many other nutrients crucial for immune function and gut health. Babies typically take well to cereal grains such as oats because of their texture, mild taste, and ease of eating (32, 33).
- 6–8-month-olds: Use breast milk or iron-fortified cereal to make baby oatmeal. To serve oats cold, blend or grind them and mix with unsweetened yogurt or applesauce.
- 9–12-month-olds: Make homemade oat muffins and cut into bite-size pieces.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages offering potential allergen foods, such as peanuts and tree nuts, in infancy. Early exposure to potential food allergens may reduce food allergy risks in babies who are at least 4 months old (34).
Nut butters, such as peanut, almond, and cashew butter, are rich in protein and effortlessly combine with many other foods. Babies must get adequate protein in their diets to support growing bones and muscle strength (35, 36).
Choose a natural peanut butter to avoid hydrogenated oils and added sugars that tend to be less healthy.
Monitor your baby for potential food allergy symptoms such as (37):
If you suspect your infant may have a food allergy, seek medical help immediately.
- 6–8-month-olds: Mix a small amount of natural creamy nut butter into yogurt or oatmeal. To reduce the risk of choking, avoid using crunchy nut butter.
- 9–12-month-olds: Spread a thin layer of creamy nut butter onto a piece of toast or a cracker. To reduce the risk of choking, avoid using crunchy nut butter.
Even when your baby is trying new foods, it’s important to also give them plenty of liquid to keep them nourished and hydrated.
Breast milk remains the best source of nutrition for babies. If breast milk is not available, iron-fortified formula is the best alternative nutrition source to ensure healthy growth and development. Babies need breast milk or formula from birth to around 12 months of age (38).
In addition, babies who are at least 6 months old can safely drink 4–8 ounces of plain water daily, according to the AAP (39).
Safe BLW foods for your baby include cooked eggs, oats, sweet potatoes, carrots, and nut butter. Be sure to prepare and cut foods properly to ensure safety.
Some foods are unsafe for babies and should be avoided to reduce health risks.
Unsafe foods that can cause severe illness
It’s best not to give honey and corn syrup to babies under age 1 because these foods may be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a harmful bacteria known to produce toxins that can cause paralysis in babies (40).
Similarly, unpasteurized meats and dairy products can lead to life threatening infections if they carry harmful bacteria such as Listeria. If you plan to give meats or dairy products to babies, be sure to purchase products that are clearly labeled “pasteurized” (41).
From around age 1, babies have greater immunity and improved gut health to fight illness (42).
Also, it’s critical to avoid giving your baby high mercury fish. These include predatory fish such as swordfish, shark, and orange roughy. Mercury is a heavy metal that can harm a baby’s developing brain, spine, and nervous system (43, 44).
Instead, it’s safe to offer your baby small amounts of low mercury fish like salmon, light tuna, and cod once or twice per week (43, 44).
Foods that can lead to choking
To reduce the risk of choking, avoid offering these foods to your baby:
- Sticky foods: marshmallows, gummies, candy, large amounts of thick nut butter
- Round or coin-shaped foods: grapes, cherry tomatoes, hot dogs, hard candy
- Raw foods: broccoli or cauliflower stems, carrots, raw apple — unless shredded for older infants
- Hard-to-chew foods: popcorn, hard-crusted bread, whole nuts
Unsafe liquids for babies
Children under 12 months of age should not consume cow’s milk because their kidneys and digestive system may have trouble processing its mineral and protein content (9).
Further, the AAP recommends delaying offering juice until 12 months of age to prevent tooth decay (45).
To keep your baby safe and healthy, avoid potentially harmful foods and liquids such as honey, corn syrup, unpasteurized meats, and dairy products; foods that can cause choking; cow’s milk; and juice.
Babies can eat a wide variety of foods through baby-led weaning (BLW), starting from around 6 months of age.
Avocados, yogurt, tofu, eggs, carrots, meat and fish, apples, sweet potatoes, and oats can provide your baby with nutrients to support their rapid growth and development.
Your baby’s age and stage of development will determine how you prepare these foods. Generally, opt for well-cooked foods rather than raw.
Because babies are at risk for food poisoning and choking, remain aware and informed of the foods and liquids to avoid in infancy, including honey, round foods, and hard-to-chew foods.
Just one thing
Try this today: Check out this article to learn more about the benefits of BLW and which other foods can help get you and your baby off to the right start.
Ultimate Guide to Baby Led Weaning (and Best First Foods)
Learn the basics of how to do the feeding approach known as “baby led weaning” and the best first foods for baby to make starting solids easy and fun. Plus: Learn why it’s perfectly okay to use a combined approach of blw and purees.
Baby Led Weaning
The feeding approach known as “baby led weaning” or “BLW” for short, is a style of feeding infants that allows them to feed themselves right from the start. The food is offered in thick finger-size pieces and is soft and easily squishable between your fingers. This way, the food is both easy to hold but has a low risk of choking.
TIP: This method became popular about a decade ago after the publication of the Baby Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Food by UK author Gill Rapley.
One of the many reasons that people are starting to opt for this style of feeding more and more is simply that it’s easy. In many cases, you can modify foods you’re already making to share with your baby and there’s not always a lot of separate cooking involved. It also allows a baby to have control over what goes into their mouths, which sets a good precedent for letting them eat intuitively from the start.
What age should I start baby led weaning?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a baby is ready to start solids with baby led weaning when:
- They’ve doubled their birth weight (at least).
- They can hold their head up well and are starting to sit up unsupported.
- They show signs of being interested in food (watching you eat, reaching for food when you’re eating, etc).
- When you feed them, they are able to move the food around in their mouths—rather than spit it right out.
TIP: Look for a highchair that allows a baby to sit up relatively straight so they can have good posture and better control over their arms and hands.
How to Start Baby Led Weaning
The first time you offer solids is such a fun milestone, so you’ll be ready once you follow these simple steps.
- Make sure baby has hit the milestones listed above to let you know that he’s ready to start.
- Get the highchair ready and adjust the straps and foot rest as needed.
- Plan to introduce water when you start solids. I recommend a trainer cup.
- Choose one food to start with and plan to offer only one food at a time.
- Stop when baby starts to fuss, turns his head away, or shows any other signs of not wanting to continue. It’s usually fairly obvious when they are done!
TIP: If you start offering solids and baby just doesn’t seem interested at all, it’s okay. Take a break for a few days or a few weeks and start again. Each kiddo has their own unique timeline.
Best Tips for Starting BLW
Here are a few more tips to consider and review before you get started.
- Understand the gag reflex. Gagging is different than choking though and is most often a sign that baby is learning to move food around in their mouths—and to get it out of their mouths, which is a skill you want them to have!
- Brush up on the basics of how to know when baby is ready to start solids. (Go back to the top of this post for the signs to look for.)
- Set them up for success with a highchair that allows them to sit up straight and has foot support.
- Sit with them as you offer food.
- Check your own expectations of what will happen and simply allow your baby to take the lead.
- Start with one new food a day or every few days.
- Vary the textures of foods you offer to start exposing baby to many right from the start.
- Offer water in a sippy cup or small open cup.
TIP: Remember that breastmilk or formula will continue to satisfy baby’s hunger for the first few months of eating solids. Do not expect solids to replace milk feedings at this age.
First Foods for Baby
Starting solids with baby led weaning or purees are both perfectly acceptable ways to introduce a baby to solid foods—but the topic can get so heated! There’s a lot of pressure to do it the “right” way and I’m here to say that there isn’t one. You 100% can do one or the other, or combine the two to make it work for your family. It’s all good!
Remember, the goal with first foods for baby is that they’re introduced to flavors, nutrients, and foods they can easily eat or suck on. It should be an enjoyable milestone for all involved.
TIP: It’s a good idea to get into the habit of offering an iron-rich food since iron stores in babies start to run out around 6 months and they’ll need to start ingesting it in their food.
Best First Foods for Baby Led Weaning
Here are some of our favorite first foods to offer baby led weaning style. You want foods to be finger sized so they are large enough that baby can’t force the whole piece into their mouth, and a shape that’s easy for a 6 month old to hold with their chubby little hands. These are some of our favorites.
- Roasted sweet potato wedges
- Roasted apple wedges, skin on to help them hold together
- Roasted or steamed broccoli florets (big enough for baby to hold)
- Melon slices
- Thick mango slice
- Banana with some of the peel still on
- Toast sticks with mashed avocado
- Avocado spears (make sure the avocado is ripe and soft)
- Lamb or beef, on the bone or a large piece for baby to suck on
- Dark meat chicken, on the bone or a large piece for baby to suck on.
TIP: The foods should generally be soft enough to squish between your fingers with the exception of the large pieces of meat. If baby gnaws a piece down into a smaller piece, replace it with a larger one to avoid her putting a chunk of food into her mouth.
Baby Led Weaning Banana
To serve a banana to a baby, wash it well, then slice it in half. Cut off an inch or two of the peel, but leave the rest of the peel on so it’s not slippery for baby to hold. They’ll suck on the top part like a little popsicle! You can also help them hold the banana if needed.
Foods to Avoid Serving While Doing BLW
You want any foods you offer to a baby while doing baby led weaning to be soft enough to squish between your fingers and safe for them to eat and digest. Plan to avoid:
- Anything hard, sticky, or crunchy (like raw apple or carrot, whole nuts, crackers, or a big spoonful or nut butter)
- Added salt
- Cow’s milk (which is difficult for kids under 1 to digest; plain yogurt is fine though)
- Added sugar (they simply don’t need it)
- Honey (to avoid a risk of botulism)
- Super slippery foods that would be hard for baby to hold (which can be frustrating)
TIP: Always sit with your baby and watch them try to eat. They are your best guide for making adjustments to the foods you serve.
Baby Led Weaning and Choking
There are many parents who dislike this method of feeding because it often sounds like a baby is choking. And while there are surely some incidences of choking, what’s more likely is that a baby will occasionally gag on a piece of food that gets into their mouth that they weren’t expecting.
But remember: Gagging is a sign that baby is doing what she needs to in order to move the food around in their mouth as they learn to eat. It usually sounds more dangerous than it actually is.
TIP: If the sound of gagging really freaks you out, you’re not alone. Consider offering more preloaded spoons with purees to start your journey more slowly.
How to Cut Foods for BLW
You generally want the food to be big enough that it would be difficult for baby to put the entire thing into their mouths. Here are some specifics:
- Foods that are roughly the size of a finger, so about a 4-inch stick.
- Foods that are easy for the baby to pick up—they can’t pick up small pieces until closer to 9 months when they develop the ability to use their fingers in what’s known as a “pincer grasp”.
- Foods that aren’t too slippery—so you can wash and leave some of the peel on fresh foods like bananas, avocado, kiwi, and mango.
TIP: You can also go even bigger if you’re worried about size. Think half of a slice of bread or a big chunk of watermelon.
Will my baby actually eat much food with BLW?
Probably not at first. There will likely be more tasting of the food than eating of it and that is totally fine. They will still rely on breast milk or formula at this age for their main nutrition, so don’t expect them to suddenly start eating full meals. (They’ll get there in a few months, but it takes time!)
Do babies need teeth for baby led weaning?
No! Gums are super strong and front teeth aren’t used for chewing—that happens when the back molars come in. Teeth really have nothing to do with whether or not a baby can eat solids.
TIP: Learn more about what to expect from teething here.
Can you mix baby led weaning and purees?
Absolutely! I think it’s a great idea to mix the two methods simply because it gives you many more options for foods and allows the baby to experience more textures. I recommend allowing babies to feed themselves preloaded spoons—so you put the puree on a spoon, then hand it to them to actually put the spoon into their mouth—so they still have control over what goes into their mouths.
TIP: Feeding some purees is also helpful if you’ll be sending food with a baby to daycare since the care provider may not have experience with blw.
Best First Foods for Baby: Purees
Here are some of our favorite purees to start offering baby when they’re ready to start solids. Remember: There’s no evidence that says that you need to start with vegetables versus fruits, so go with something that tastes good to you. Start with single foods pureed smooth and offer just a little at a time on a spoon.
- Mashed roasted sweet potato puree
- Mashed avocado puree
- Mashed banana puree
- Butternut squash puree
- Applesauce, unsweetened
- Mashed pea puree
- Oatmeal baby cereal (with added iron)
TIP: One of my favorite baby food companies is Amara Organic Baby Food, a company using a nutrient protection technology that makes organic purees just as good as homemade. I love how easy they are to use when I need a shortcut and that they have fun baby-led weaning recipes on the side of every box! (paid affiliate link)
How do I know when baby has had enough?
If your baby is eating and then starts to turn her head away or just refuses to open her mouth, she’s done! Babies may also start to fuss if they’ve had enough. Learning this new skill takes time and babies can become tired fairly quickly into the process, so don’t expect them to always eat very much or to last very long at the table. This stage is about exploration!Baby with preloaded spoon of yogurt
How to Let Baby Self Feed Purees
I love offering purees on a preloaded spoon. To do this, the parent, puts some of the food on the spoon and hands it to baby. Then baby can bring the food to their mouth all by themselves. This gives you some of the same advantages of baby led weaning, but can be more comfortable for many parents.
Remember, you can mix what you offer, going back and forth between purees and blw finger foods, so you can offer the same food two different ways to let baby explore. The main goal is to avoid forcing baby to take more bites than they want to, which can sometimes happen with purees.Baby eating peanut butter toast stick
When to Introduce Potentially Allergenic Foods
In recent years, guidelines have been updated on when to introduce potential allergens including peanuts, eggs, and shellfish, so unless you have a family history of a food allergy, you can go ahead and introduce them soon after baby starts eating solids. In fact, research is showing that introducing these foods early can actually protect baby from developing an allergy. Talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns.
TIP: Thin unsweetened peanut butter with water to form a very thin Peanut Butter Puree until it’s about the consistency of regular yogurt and offer a very small amount on a spoon or spread on a toast stick.
What does a baby led weaning meal look like for months 7 and 8?
Until a baby is closer to 9 months and is able to pick up smaller pieces of foods, but after they have gotten the hang of one food at a time, I try to offer 1-2 foods they can feed themselves and one puree. This offers them a chance to ingest more via the puree but still feed themselves a range of textures. You can do more or less food following the lead of the child.
TIP: My Baby Food Chart has loads of with ideas for blw foods and purees by month.
Recipes for Every Stage of Starting Solids
If you’re ready to start solids with baby, or you’re just curious what it looks like to do a mix of baby led weaning and purees, check out my Yummy Baby Food cookbook. It goes stage by stage with specific foods to start in each, with simple recipes and easy feeding tips.
Listen to a recent podcast episode to hear about some of the basics of BLW with our guest Megan McNamee, MPH, RDN, CLT, and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in pediatric nutrition who runs Feeding Littles.
I’d love to hear any questions you have with BLW or if your baby had a first food that I didn’t list here. Please comment below to share your experience!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Author Amy Palanjian
- ▢ 1 small ripe banana with peel on
Roasted Sweet Potato
- ▢ 1 small sweet potato + 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ▢ 1 small apple + 1 teaspoon butter or neutral oil
- ▢ 1 cup broccoli florets + 1 teaspoon olive oil
Sauteed Green Beans
- ▢ 4 green beans 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ▢ 1 small piece watermelon or cantaloupe
- ▢ 1 slice whole grain bread
- ▢ 1 tbsp ripe avocado
- ▢ ⅛ ripe avocado
Lamb or Beef
- ▢ 1 lamb chop, roast, or steak
Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs
- ▢ 1 chicken thigh
- ▢ 1 tsp olive oil
- ▢ 1 garlic clove, optional
Banana with some of the peel still on
Cut a banana in half. Use a knife to gently cut around the peel about 2 inches down, leaving some of the peel on so that the banana is easy for baby to hold and less slippery.
Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Wash and dry the sweet potato. (You don't need to peel it.) Cut in half, then cut lengthwise into strips. Cut each strip in half again until each is about 1/2-inch thick. Slice in half horizontally if the sweet potato is very long. (Each strip should be about the size of your finger.) Place into a bowl and toss with the olive oil. Spread onto prepared baking sheet and roast for 22-25 minutes or until soft. Let cool slightly and serve.
Roasted Apple Wedges
Roasted Broccoli Florets
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the broccoli onto a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, coating and mixing well until all of the florets are a little shiny and coated with oil. Roast for 15-18 minutes or until tender. Let cool slightly and serve.
Sauteed Green Beans
Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the green beans and stir. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes. Remove cover and taste one to see if it’s soft enough. Cook for an additional minute or two as needed.
(Make sure the avocado is ripe and soft): Cut a thick strip of avocado and offer to baby. You can leave the peel on if that makes it easier for baby to hold (just wash it first).
Lamb or Beef
Prepare a roast, steak, or chop without salt and with butter or olive oil until cooked medium well. Offer a thick slice at least the size of your finger or a drumstick.
Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs
Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken thigh and top with a few slices of fresh garlic, if desired. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove cover. Flip over and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes uncovered or until a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F.
- Add spices like garlic powder, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, or any other non-spicy flavor you like to make these more interesting.
- Offer just one piece at a time when starting out.
- If baby gnaws a piece down into a smaller piece, replace it with a larger one to avoid her putting a chunk of food into her mouth.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Reheat briefly if needed.
- Remember that it's normal for babies to take time to actually ingest the food. Part of the process is exploring all of the senses related to the experience of eating.
Calories: 28kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Sodium: 6mg, Potassium: 75mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 23IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 2mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!
Self-feeding of children - Encyclopedia Baby foodLevchuk Victoria©
More and more parents prefer to feed their child on their own from the very beginning, when complementary foods are introduced at about six months of age. When a child explores the food on a tray with his hands and his whole face, sounds sloppy, but it's so much fun for both him and his parents. Giving toddlers the opportunity to explore food with all of their senses increases acceptance of new tastes and textures. As a bonus, self-catering helps parents enjoy their meals at the same table as their child.
You can read about independent nutrition in the following articles:
- At what age does a child begin to eat independently?
- How to teach a child to feed himself
- How to spoon feed
Learning to feed yourself is an important milestone for many reasons.
First , children learn to feed themselves, and this is a skill that they need to develop before 2 years of age to use all their lives.
Second, this stage includes the development of
finger grasping, squeezing and throwing food. It may sound strange, but it's one way a child develops fine motor skills, like holding a spoon.
Third, is a chance to help your child learn more about the taste, texture, smell and temperature of food. For example, he learns that it is easier to take a piece of banana or kiwi than yogurt or spaghetti.
Fourth, scooping or forking food and then bringing the object and food to the mouth are all great ways for a child to practice hand-eye coordination or fine motor skills.
Since feeding is a motivating factor for most children, hard work and perseverance in the face of complex motor challenges is guaranteed.
Fifth, the child improves sensory processing skills.
Messy eating isn't just messy, it's a great way to develop tactile (sensory) skills. The child begins to understand his feelings when there is a sticky or sticky consistency on the face, when it is cold or warm on the hands and face, because this is normal.
Sensory experiences at an early age develops a sensory threshold so that the baby understands what inputs are safe and comfortable.
Self-feeding also develops the proprioceptive or kinesthetic sense. This is a sensation that tells the body where the parts of the body are in relation to the outside world and to each other. This feeling helps to touch the nose with closed eyes and fasten the coat without peeping. Funny things happen while the baby remembers where his mouth is and acquires muscle memory when he brings food and utensils to his mouth.
Sixth, the child becomes independent. Independence is an important stage in the development of early childhood. By allowing the child to self-feed, the parent avoids or minimizes potential power struggles and behaviors (including food tossing) while eating.
Many parents wonder why a child stops eating from a spoon after he starts using his fingers to feed. It's simple, if only a parent used a spoon (fed the child from a spoon), then the child decides to use an independent method of nutrition (fingers).
Self-catering helps children determine how much food to eat. For health and well-being, the best skill a child can acquire during childhood is awareness of satiety.
Seventh, the child learns to use his mouth.
What most parents don't realize is that a child under one year old easily learns to take sips from an open cup.
Drinking liquid from a cup helps the child improve more skills and also helps to achieve jaw stability. Don't forget to also practice neck movements for proper head tilt to take a sip, use of two hands (bilateral coordination) and kinesthetic/proprioceptive skills for proper cup tilt.
Dirt, lots of cleaning, broken plates and mugs. But seriously?!
After the introduction of complementary foods, the child shows signs of a desire to feed on his own. For example, he may begin to reach for a spoon or try to take food from a plate.
Baby wants to feed himself is normal and great, we encourage it, although it is often messy and can sometimes be frustrating for the mother, who will have to clean everything up.
Be patient - sooner or later the child will improve motor skills and stop dropping and dirtying everything. You can keep a camera handy to capture the fun side of this feeding phase.
The best way to start the self-feeding phase is with finger food.
Finger food are soft, small pieces of food that a child can easily pick up and grind between the gums or teeth. If you are interested in self-feeding, you can start with food that is easy to put in your baby's hand, such as a small piece of soft fruit or soft boiled vegetables such as potatoes or squash.
Advice : At the beginning of self-feeding, you can put finger food directly on the table for feeding in a small amount, as the food decreases (due to falling on the floor or getting into the mouth), you can add more. This way the food won't end up on the floor right away.
Most children will not be able to use a spoon until they are 18 months old. But it is better to allow the child to use the spoon from a much earlier age. Babies usually report themselves that they want to use a spoon during feeding, when they constantly reach for it.
Advice : At the very beginning of weaning, you can feed (supplement) the baby with one spoon while he holds the second.
To avoid suffocation, we always look after the child when he learns to feed himself. It is important to feed your baby in a sitting position. Some foods, such as whole nuts and hard foods like raw carrots, are dangerous for your baby. Children who are learning to eat should not eat these foods.
Eating erratically and playing with food are normal parts of a child's development as they learn to feed on their own.
If the mess causes stress for the mother, then you can:
- put a bib on the child
- offer finger food that is soft, but not spreadable, which is easy to collect with a broom, rather than washing the floor
- cut the food into strips or cubes so that it is easier to take and eat
- let the child eat with his hands
- put an oilcloth or diaper under the high chair
- feed the child naked (easier to wash, especially in summer)
- calm down and clean up once a day (cockroaches are nocturnal animals, so you can wash the floor before going to bed )
- dress the child in unstained or unnecessary clothes (but preferably naked).
Child drops or throws food on the floor is normal. Especially if he is less than a year old, then this is definitely normal, he is studying physics. If the mother reacts when the child does this, he may think that this is the beginning of an exciting new game. One way to deal with this is to ignore it. Calmly and without fuss to pick up food. Lifting food or utensils from the floor and giving to the child should not be, it is better not to touch anything. And on the table to have spare cutlery. "It has fallen - it means it's gone!" is probably the most important rule of the first year of self-feeding.
When your baby is six months old, he is ready to learn how to drink from a cup. Like learning to eat, this can be a slow and difficult process.
Here are some tips to help you teach your child to drink from a cup:
- Buy your child a small, unbreakable plastic cup that is easy to hold and hold.
- Let the child play with the cup first to get used to it.
- Hold the cup for the first few times when using it.
- Pour only a small amount of liquid into the cup (a couple of sips) so as not to spill.
- During a family meal, the cup should be used by all family members to show the child how it is done - babies love to imitate their parents.
Self-feeding of children is the right skill that helps parents after 1.5 years. But until this age, the child will hone his movements every day, achieving filigree accuracy. And it's very dirty! After all, the first time the food / spoon gets anywhere, but not in the mouth. Therefore, there are many funny cases when a spoon flies at mom or dirty hands stick to mom's hair. My advice: Keep your phone or camera nearby, the main thing is to have time to take a picture, and everything else is trifles.
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On our website Encyclopedia Baby Food there is useful information on the nutrition of your children, which is useful for everyone, and we update the website "Encyclopedia Baby Food" constantly and try to search and write only excellent, verified and necessary information for you and your children.
Disclaimer No. 1: It must be understood that the author of the articles on the Baby Food Encyclopedia website is not a medical staff, “I am not a doctor.” The information I share is based on my own experience. My goal is not to teach you how to eat or feed your child, but to talk about how we did it, what new things I learned or read. This expands the picture of Baby Food knowledge, gives you a glimpse of the whole process so you can decide if you like it or not.
Disclaimer No. 2 : However, the above does not replace visiting a pediatrician. Before you start complementary foods, you need to get his professional opinion on the best way to introduce new foods for your baby. I also draw your attention to the fact that you need to look at the original date of the published articles, because some of the "best practices" may have changed. Always check with your child's pediatrician about complementary foods and their health.
Disclaimer #3: Keep in mind that every family is unique, every situation is also completely unique. There are no universal solutions. Only you can find what works best for you. Certain goals require certain sacrifices and priorities - not everyone wants to make that choice, and that's GREAT! Just know what you want to achieve, and be ready to get to work, putting the best of your strength!
Disclaimer No. 4: On the Encyclopedia Baby Food website, photos from books on baby food with attribution are used for a more complete understanding of the information (Article 1274, paragraph 1, part four of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation). Literature on baby food is found in the public domain on the Internet.
Disclaimer No. 5: Content, editing, proofreading, layout, etc. produced ONLY by the author of the site Encyclopedia Baby food. Therefore, I apologize for spelling, punctuation and stylistic errors. If you notice a mistake, please report it, and do not write angry comments about the illiteracy of the author of the article.
Apricot puree with chicken
Broth with peas and rice
Botterbrod with kolrabi
Quick dessert from the finished dough
Junx with strawberries
Buckwheat with green peas
Buckwheat with apricots
9020 Children's Vinaigrette
Children's Cucumber Salad
Children's Olivier Salad
Children's Porridge Cookies
Children's Puree of Strawberry, Banana, Yellow Cherry, Matsoni and Cereal Cookies
Children's mashed potatoes with cottage cheese and fruits
Home yeast bread with linen flour
Breakfast on the street
Outlet from kohlrabi
Baked carrots baked carrots and cherries with a preheated salad 9020 white beans
Quinoa and pumpkin porridge
Quinoa and apple
Strawberry puree with banana
Compote of wild apples and raspberries
Compote of dried fruits steamed in a thermos for a baby over 8 months
Corn porridge with pear
Corn porridge9 with pumpkin
Corn and walrus porridge Corn porridge with apple and carrots
Chicken liver in the oven
Chicken cutlets with carrots
Chicken with carrots, sweet peppers and potatoes
Pasta with orange sauce
Pasta with Gremolata
Muffins with vegetables and egg
New potatoes in their skins
Vermicelli milk soup
Carrot and potato puree
Carrot and rice casserole
Carrot with chicken
Fly agaric from eggs and tomatoes
Homemade tarragon meat envelopes children
Cauliflower and carrot vegetable puree
Vegetable soup with corn semolina
Vegetable soup with cheese and corn semolina
Vegetable soup with spinach
Vegetable puree soup with bell pepper
pancakes from polions
pancakes on hot kefir
omelet in a package
omelet with broccoli and cauliflower
omnete with spinach and cheese
pure apples 7 months +
pies Pies and carrots 9020
Rice and zucchini pie
Fish and potato pie
White cabbage pizza
Zucchini, tomato and sausage pizza
Tomato and olive pizza
Chicken pilaf with green peas and corn
Banana and cherry puree
Banana, cottage cheese and porridge puree 4 grains
Broccoli (cauliflower) puree
Broccoli, squash and cauliflower puree
Pear and banana puree
Pear and banana puree, baked
Pear and pumpkin puree 7 months +
Pear, pumpkin and peach puree
Pear, apple, plum and prunes puree
Zucchini and broccoli puree
Zucchini, carrot and potato puree
Quinoa and banana puree
Quinoa and carrot puree
Quinoa, banana and carrot puree 903
Quinoa, peach and raspberry puree
Quinoa, cauliflower, apple, pea and mint puree
Quinoa, apple, pear and raisin puree
Quinoa, apple, carrot puree
Rabbit, broccoli and mint puree cauliflower
Chicken, carrot, potato, apple and pea puree
Raspberry, cherry and banana puree
Carrot and apple puree
Carrot, potato, broccoli puree with cheese
Carrot, potato, apple and quinoa puree
Carrot, pumpkin, apple and prune puree
Carrot, apple and potato puree
Turnip and carrot puree
Cottage cheese, strawberry and banana puree
Pumpkin and banana puree
Pumpkin and banana puree
Pumpkin and apple puree
Pumpkin, apple and banana puree
Cauliflower and broccoli puree
Cauliflower and potato puree
Cauliflower and rice puree
Cauliflower and apple puree
Cauliflower and green pea puree and squash
Cauliflower, turkey and potato puree
Cauliflower, potato and squash puree
Cauliflower, carrot and broccoli puree
Cauliflower, carrot, cheese and rice puree
Cauliflower, apple and squash puree
Zucchini and potato puree
Zucchini, carrot and apple puree
Apple, pumpkin, carrot and some apple curry puree
toy apple puree apple and strawberry puree
Apple, strawberry and cherry puree
Apple, peach and banana puree
Carrot and pumpkin puree
Cottage cheese and banana puree
Turkey, potato and carrot stew
Zucchini, carrot and broccoli stew
Fish, potato, carrot and broccoli stew
Whole grain rice porridge
Rice porridge with carrots
Rice porridge with pumpkin
Rice porridge with apples
Rice porridge with apple and pear
Rice porridge with apple and pumpkin 903 cutlets with vegetables
Fish meatballs with ketchup
Fish soup for children
Fish soup with salmon and celery
Carrot and kohlrabi salad
Chickpea and cabbage salad
Creamy Kohlrabi Soup
Cheese Pizza Sauce
Pea and Bacon Soup
Roasted Vegetable Soup
with potatoes and turnips
Meatball soup for the picky eater
Kohlrabi puree soup with green apple
Rabbit, pumpkin, potato, broccoli and cauliflower soup
Pumpkin puree with mushrooms
Broccoli and Celery Soup
Pork Potato and Carrot Soup/Stew
Pumpkin Cheese Sauce (Annabelle Carmel Recipe)
Buzz Lightyear Sandwich
Pumpkin-Apple Juice 902 Pumpkin Juice 902 puree soup
Mango fruit salad
Cauliflower with cheese
Linden and thyme tea
Experimental pasta and lentil soup puree
Complementary food menu.Complementary feeding by months
There is a need to introduce new products and dishes into his diet, different in their nutritional and biological value, composition, texture and taste. The introduction of complementary foods is an important and crucial moment in organizing the proper feeding of a child in the first year of life, so the approach to it must be responsible and reasonable. The expansion of the child's nutrition is caused by the need to additionally introduce a number of nutrients into his body, the intake of which only with human milk or an adapted mixture becomes insufficient at a certain stage in the development of the child's body. In particular, the child's body needs proteins, fats, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, a wide range of minerals and trace elements necessary for its further growth and development. Many children, especially in winter and spring, begin to experience a deficiency of certain vitamins.
Introduce complementary foods earlier than 3-4 months. inappropriate, since the child's body is not yet ready for this. In addition, early complementary feeding may reduce the frequency and activity of suckling and thus crowd out breastfeeding. At the same time, introducing complementary foods after 6-7 months is also not advisable, because this may cause problems with the perception of denser food, various negative reactions, up to reflex vomiting on solid food particles and the development of deficient conditions.
Complementary Feeding Rules
In order for the introduction of complementary foods to go smoothly, the following rules must be followed.
1. You can start the introduction of any new product only when the child is healthy.
2. Complementary foods should not be introduced during the hot season, as well as during preventive vaccinations.
3. During the period of introducing complementary foods, breast milk (adapted milk formula) remains the main type of nutrition for the child.
4. A new product or a new dish should be given in the morning in order to be able to note a possible reaction to it.
5. Complementary foods are given before breastfeeding (adapted formula).
6. Complementary foods must be given from a spoon, and not through a nipple.
7. Complementary foods begin to be given in a semi-liquid (homogenized) consistency, then the food becomes more dense.
8. The introduction of a new product (dish) begins with small quantities with a gradual increase in volume.
9. Complementary foods must begin with one type of product of this group with the gradual inclusion of new ones.
10. As complementary foods, it is better to use industrial products that have a stable composition and are made from environmentally friendly raw materials.
For each baby, the timing of the introduction of complementary foods is individual. As a rule, the first complementary foods coincide with the age of 5. 5-6 months and do not prevent further breastfeeding or artificial feeding.
juices are the first to be introduced into the child's diet. Juices are a source of sugars, potassium, iron, β-carotene. They can be monocomponent (from one type of fruit) and polycomponent, consisting of 2 or more fruits, berries or vegetables. They may be clarified or contain pulp. The nutritional value of juices with pulp is higher. First, monocomponent clarified juices (preferably apple, pear), without sugar are introduced. The sweetness in these juices is achieved by selecting sweet fruits containing natural sugars. They begin to introduce juices from 4–4.5 months with ½ tsp. and gradually, in the absence of a reaction, increase the amount; from 5.5 months you can enter polycomponent juices. For children suffering from unstable stools, it is best to give juices from blueberries, blackcurrants, cherries, pomegranates, which contain tannins and act as a fixative. Cabbage and beetroot juices, prunes nectar, which act as a laxative, are very useful for children with constipation.
2 weeks after the administration of juices, fruit purees are prescribed. They can be monocomponent or multicomponent, as well as combined, when dairy additives (cottage cheese, yogurt, cream) or grain additives (specially processed rice, corn, oatmeal) are added to their composition. Fruit purees are also divided according to the degree of grinding: homogenized for children aged 4–6 months. and puree for children 6-9 months. Fruit purees are a source of natural sugars, vitamin C, β-carotene, potassium, iron, bioflavonoids that increase the activity of the immune system. Fruit purees, as well as juices with pulp, contain dietary fiber that regulates intestinal motility. They participate in the normalization of the intestinal microflora and are able to remove toxic substances from the body. With an unstable stool, it is better to use puree from apples, pears, bananas, rich in pectins, which have a beneficial effect on digestion. With a tendency to constipation, apricot, plum, carrot, prunes puree is recommended. The latter is given in addition to other fruit purees from 2 to 4 teaspoons per day.
From 5–6 months, more dense food is introduced into the child's diet - main complementary foods . The need for the introduction of complementary foods is due to the peculiarities of the development of the child. After four months of life, his neuropsychic development is proceeding at a rapid pace. The kid becomes more active, mobile, keenly interested in the world around him. Therefore, he no longer needs only breast milk or formula, as well as those small amounts of nutritional supplements in the form of fruit juices and purees. Complementary foods are given in fairly large quantities and are actually independent nutrition, almost completely replacing first one and then several breastfeeds or formula. If the baby is breastfed, after each meal, it should be applied to the mother's breast. This creates the prerequisites for a longer preservation of lactation.
There are various special programs that provide for the gradual introduction of various complementary foods into the child's diet. The choice of the first product of the main complementary foods is carried out taking into account the state of the digestive system and the developmental features of the child. For children with low body weight, single regurgitation, episodic colic and flatulence, as well as absolutely healthy babies, cereals (grain complementary foods) can be recommended as the first complementary foods. At present, cereals industrial production, which are prepared from environmentally friendly raw materials, using modern technologies, which improves their absorption. They have a stable composition, good taste and guaranteed microbiological parameters. Porridges are enriched with vitamins and minerals necessary for the growing body of a child and are of great importance for the prevention of a number of alimentary-dependent diseases, such as anemia, rickets, malnutrition, which often occur in children in the second half of life. One of the advantages of instant cereals is the possibility of their quick preparation, without boiling. The range of industrial cereals is quite wide and involves the use of various cereals: buckwheat, oatmeal, rice, barley, corn, etc. Porridges are made from one type of cereal (monocomponent), and using 2 or more cereals (polycomponent).
There are gluten-containing cereals (semolina, oatmeal, barley) and gluten-free (buckwheat, corn, rice). It is not recommended to introduce gluten-containing cereals into the child's diet before 6 months of age. This is a preventive measure for the occurrence of allergic reactions to gluten, as well as early manifestations of celiac disease. Porridges can be dairy or dairy-free. The latter are diluted with breast milk or infant formula received by the child. They are especially necessary for children who are allergic to cow's milk proteins and lactase deficiency. In the future, gluten-containing cereals (oatmeal, barley, wheat, semolina) and cereals from a mixture of cereals can be used.
There are also varieties of cereals. These primarily include soluble biscuits. For its preparation, wheat, oat flour is used, with the addition of various food ingredients (milk, sugar, malt extract, corn starch, egg yolk, etc.). An obligatory component of instant biscuits are vitamins especially necessary for a child (groups B, C, beta-carotene) and minerals (calcium, phosphorus, iron). Instant biscuits can usually be used from 5 months. both in its natural form, which contributes to the formation of the act of chewing, and in the form of cereals, which is especially convenient in road conditions.
With increased body weight or delayed stools (difficult defecation), vegetable puree can be offered as a starting complementary food from 4–6 months of age. Vegetable puree is a source of organic acids, potassium, iron and dietary fiber, including pectins. Certain types of vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, spinach, etc.) are rich in beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. At the beginning, vegetable puree should consist of one type of vegetable with delicate fiber, such as zucchini. Further, it is advisable to use a combination of 3-4 vegetables. Vegetable purees can be monocomponent (cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, etc.) and polycomponent (cauliflower and pumpkin, or zucchini, carrots and potatoes). Multicomponent purees can contain not only various vegetables, but also a combination with fruits (apple-carrot, pumpkin-apple, etc.). Multicomponent vegetable purees are richer in the spectrum of nutrients and therefore more useful, but it is recommended to introduce them after no negative reactions to individual vegetables have been noted (monocomponent vegetable purees). There are also combined vegetable purees, when meat (vegetable-meat) or fish (vegetable-fish) is added to vegetables. Vegetable purees, depending on the age of the child, come in 3 degrees of grinding: homogenized, puree and coarsely ground.
From 5–6 months, cottage cheese is introduced into the child's diet, which is a source of complete protein and calcium. Cottage cheese is introduced into the child's diet from small amounts. Gradually increase the dose and after 3-4 days bring it up to 20 g per day in one or two doses, then up to 40 g and by the year - up to 50 g per day. They give cottage cheese specially prepared for baby food in dairy kitchens or in baby food shops of dairy factories.
From 6 months, you can enter egg yolk . From 6 months - ¼, from 8 months. - ½ hard-boiled egg yolk. It must be carefully separated from protein, which is not given to children under 1 year old, as it is difficult to digest. The yolk can be given simultaneously with milk porridge or vegetable puree. However, children with food allergies should not be given yolk, as ovalbumin is a strong allergen. Meat is recommended to be introduced into the child's diet from 7 months with natural feeding and from 6 months with artificial feeding. In some cases, if the child lags behind in development, there are manifestations of rickets, anemia, meat can be given earlier (at 5.5 and even 5 months at the same time as vegetable puree).
Canned meat is a valuable source of: animal protein, iron, magnesium, B vitamins, including B12. Canned meats come in three degrees of grinding: homogenized (with a particle size of 0.4 mm), puree (with a particle size of 1.5 mm) and coarsely ground (with a particle size of 3 mm). Some manufacturers produce canned food in the form of meatballs, with vegetables, i.e. there is a formed dish. Canned meat can be monocomponent, multicomponent and combined, with vegetable raw materials (cereals or vegetables).
From 8–9 months vegetable soups can be introduced into the child's diet. Meat broths are currently not used in the nutrition of children under 1 year of age, as they mainly contain substances that cause irritation of the gastric mucosa. Soups are used as the first course when the child is already preparing lunch. They are given in a small amount of 30-50 ml to stimulate the function of the digestive glands and increase appetite. The small volume of the 1st dish is due to the importance of providing the child with the 20th dish in the required volume, as it is more complete in terms of nutrient content.
- Take your time with the introduction of complementary foods. The baby's body is designed so that up to 4-6 months he can only digest mother's milk or adapted mixtures, and other products are unacceptable for him. That is why it is necessary to introduce new food very carefully, giving the child's body the opportunity to get used to it.
- With mixed and artificial feeding, it is recommended to introduce complementary foods two weeks earlier than with exclusive breastfeeding.
- Up to a year and a half, it is better to introduce each new juice with caution and in no case give the baby multicomponent juices until the child's reaction to each juice of the components of such a drink has been studied.
- Alternate complementary foods according to the nature of the products - if the first complementary foods were vegetables, then it is better to choose cereals as the second.
- If you prepare complementary foods yourself, do not do this in advance - all food for the baby should be fresh.
- Up to 1.5 years, it is categorically not recommended to add salt and sweeten the child's food. Sodium salt is poorly excreted and accumulates in the body, besides, the child's kidneys are not yet sufficiently developed. Sugar, on the other hand, contributes to the development of caries in milk teeth, loads the pancreas and forms the habit of sweets in the baby.
Sample daily diet for a 6 month old baby
Approximate amount g/ml
Breast milk or formula
Breast milk or formula
Breast milk or formula
Breast milk or formula
Example of a daily diet for a child aged 8-9 months
Approximate amount g/ml
Breast milk or formula
Or meat puree
Kefir or baby milk
Breast milk or formula
Example of a 1-year-old child's daily diet
Approximate amount g/ml
Vegetable broth with croutons
Fruit or vegetable juice
Vegetable puree or porridge
Kefir or baby milk
If the child continues to receive breast milk, then each feeding should end with the attachment of the baby to the mother's breast.