What age can babies eat 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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When Can My Baby Start Eating Solid Foods? (for Parents)
A friend just started giving her 3-month-old applesauce and rice cereal. My son is just 2 weeks younger than hers, and I am wondering if I should be introducing solids soon too. When should I start?
Doctors recommend waiting until a baby is about 6 months old to start solid foods. Starting before 4 months is not recommended.
At about 6 months, babies need the added nutrition — such as iron and zinc — that solid foods provide. It’s also the right time to introduce your infant to new tastes and textures.
Some babies may be ready for solids sooner than 6 months, but don't start until your baby is at least 4 months old.
How do you know it’s the right time to start solid foods? Here are some signs that babies are ready:
- They have good head and neck control and sit up in a high chair.
- They're interested in foods. For example, they may watch others eat, reach for food, and open their mouths when food approaches.
- They don’t push food out of their mouths, which is a natural tongue reflex that disappears when they’re between 4–6 months old.
- They weigh twice their birth weight, or close to it.
Talk to your doctor about the right time to start solid foods.
How Should I Start Solids?
When the time is right, you can start with a single-grain, iron-fortified baby cereal. Start with 1 or 2 tablespoons of cereal mixed with breast milk, formula, or water. Feed your baby with a small baby spoon. Don’t add cereal or other food to a baby's bottle because it can lead to too much weight gain. Let your baby practice eating from a spoon and learn to stop when full.
When your baby gets the hang of eating the first food, introduce others, such as puréed meat, fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, or yogurt. Try one food at a time and wait a few days before trying something else new to make sure your baby doesn't have an allergic reaction.
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 are 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.
When starting your baby on solids, avoid:
- 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 drinks 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
Also, do not give fruit juices to infants younger than 12 months old.
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.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: February 2021
Union of Pediatricians of Russia
Nutrition for children from 1 to 3 years of age
The period from 1 to 3 years of life is a crucial stage in the transition to an adult type of nutrition, which has certain features. In order to ensure that all the necessary nutrients enter the child's body and at the same time prevent an excess of individual nutrients, nutrition should be balanced and varied. nine0003
The daily amount of food for children aged 1 to 1.5 years should be 1000-1200 g, from 1.5 to 3 years - 1200-1500 g, the amount of food in one feeding should not exceed 300-350 ml. The diet consists of three main meals per day and two snacks. It is considered optimal when breakfast is 25% of the total energy density of the diet, lunch is 30–35%, dinner is 20%, and additional meals are about 10%. In general, the child can eat the same food as the rest of the family. nine0003
In the diet of a child of 1–3 years of age , must be present daily: meat of animals or poultry, dairy and sour-milk products, vegetables, fruits, bread, cereals, vegetable and butter; fish and eggs are included in the diet 2-3 times a week.
Cereal products: bread - 2-3 servings per day, cereals and side dishes - 1 time per day
Fruit and/or vegetables: at least 5 times a day
Dairy products: at least 3 servings per day (including those used to make cereals, yoghurts, fermented milk drinks, cottage cheese, infant formula or breast milk). nine0003
Domestic pediatricians recommend, when compiling a diet for children aged 1–3 years, preference should be given to specialized children's dairy products of industrial production that meet high quality requirements and safety indicators for this age. Most children's dairy products are additionally enriched with vitamins and/or minerals and other biologically active components, taking into account the physiological needs of children of this age. At the same time, in foreign recommendations, children over 1 year old are offered the gradual introduction of whole cow's milk, which is rich in fats necessary for proper growth and development, the absorption of vitamins A and D, the development of the child's brain and nervous system. nine0003
Meat dishes: 2-3 times a day
Fish dishes: 2-3 servings per week
Eggs: 2-3 per week
Dietary fats: 3-4 teaspoons of butter and/or vegetable oils per day
When cooking, use the minimum amount of salt and sugar, and do not add them to industrial products.
Offer your child a variety of foods and let them choose for themselves. Children love to eat on their own, so if possible, offer food that the child can eat with their hands. nine0003
It is important to remember that the baby can choke on pieces of food, so everything you give the child should be crushed or cut into small pieces that can be easily chewed.
Do not give to a small child: nuts, whole grapes, cherry tomatoes (unless quartered), whole carrots, seeds (such as pumpkin or sunflower seeds), round candies, legumes, raisins, because a child can eat them choke.
Also in the diet of children of the first 3 years of life should not be present:
Mushrooms; canned snacks, pickled vegetables and fruits
Home canned food
Dry concentrates for side dishes
Hot sauces, mustard, horseradish, pepper, vinegar, mayonnaise
Juices and drinks in the form of dry concentrates; sweet carbonated drinks
Products containing food additives (flavorings, dyes of artificial origin, including chewing gum), popcorn
Combined fats; cakes and pastries
It is important to remember that children of this age should not be given too spicy and spicy foods.
At what age can salt and sugar be given to a child | The benefits and harms of salt and sugar in baby food
Salt and sugar are quite controversial foods in the diet of even an adult. But what about the nutrition of children, especially the smallest - babies up to a year old?
Everyone knows that taste preferences and eating habits are developed in a person from early childhood - from the moment the first complementary foods are introduced. And the main task of parents during this period is to instill in the child a love for the natural taste of products, not to provoke the development of taste buds in only one zone, for example, sweet and salty. nine0003
Salt and sugar for children under one year old
Many mothers and fathers worry that without the introduction of sugar and salt, the child will not receive sucrose, which gives energy and mineral salts necessary for cellular metabolism. However, this is a big misconception, as scientists nutritionists have long proven, sucrose is absolutely not needed for children under one year old. Healthy sugars should get into the children's body in the form of fructose, which is found in fruits and vegetables.
As for salt, the product that we see on the shelves of stores with the inscription "Table salt" is again not the salt that a growing body needs. Mineral salts involved in every metabolic process of our body are the most complex substances in terms of their chemical composition. Here are just some of the components of these compounds - sodium chloride (salt itself), zinc, copper, manganese, iodine, selenium, etc. - and all these trace elements are found in complementary foods (vegetables, meat, fish, and others), and can fully cover the daily need of the child's body. nine0003
That is why Materna dairy and dairy-free baby food does not contain refined sugars and table salt. The required amount of nutrients and trace elements of Materna nutrition is calculated taking into account the age needs of the child. Materna infant formulas for babies of the first year of life are as close as possible in composition to mother's milk and are enriched with additional components for comfortable digestion and full growth of the child.
Sugar in baby food
The need for sugar in a child up to a year is only 4 g (slightly less than a teaspoon). Babies up to 4-6 months of age receive easily digestible sugars from mother's milk or formula. Since the introduction of complementary foods, natural sugars of vegetables and fruits, juices are added.
It is advisable to add refined white sugar to children after a year, in an amount of not more than 6 g per day (full teaspoon). Use it to sweeten sour fruit drinks, when baking fruits, in desserts or pastries. nine0003
Too early or too much sugar in a child's diet leads to a number of problems:
- fermentation processes in the intestines increase, which provokes bloating and painful colic. Products of incomplete protein breakdown from the intestine are absorbed into the bloodstream, thereby causing allergic reactions;
- excess sugar is deposited in fat depots, there are prerequisites for the development of obesity, diabetes and changes in the central nervous system; nine0019
- tooth enamel is destroyed;
- interferes with proper nutrition: sweetened food creates an “illusion” of satiety in a child, therefore, having eaten quite a bit, for example, sweet porridge or cookies, he will refuse the main meal;
- sugar in children is addictive! No matter how scary it sounds, but this pattern has been repeatedly proven: a child, receiving a portion of glucose, experiences an emotional upsurge, he is cheerful and active, but as soon as the blood sugar level drops to normal, lethargy and boredom will set in, so the child will begin to ask himself, and then demand sweets. nine0082
Materna Sugar Free Infant Formula does not have these drawbacks.
Salt in the diet of children under one year old
The stereotype that has been strengthened over the years that the human body without salt can get serious functional disorders, and to this day encourages young mothers to add salt to complementary foods for their beloved child. But is salt really necessary for children under one year old? Many pediatricians agree that the child receives all the necessary mineral salts from milk nutrition or complementary foods without the addition of common table salt. nine0003
The daily salt requirement for a child up to a year is 0.3 g (after a year 0.5 g). Before the introduction of complementary foods, babies receive all this amount from mother's milk or an adapted milk formula. After that, mineral salts of complementary foods are added: from vegetables, fruits, cereals, meat and other foods. If parents want to further “enrich” the child’s diet with salt and add salt to complementary foods, this will create a greater burden on the kidneys (since salt retains fluid) and the child’s pancreas.