What age can babies have table 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.

Your child:

  • 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 8- to 12-Month-Old (for Parents)

By 8 months old, most babies are pros at handling the iron-fortified infant cereals and the puréed foods that are part of their diet, along with breast milk or formula.

Over the next few months, they will start to explore table foods.

Changing Eating Habits

Offer your baby a variety of tastes and textures from all food groups. Start any new food with a trial run (a few days to a week) to look for any allergic reactions. Babies younger than 12 months old should not have:

  • honey until after a baby's 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 vegetables, grapes, hard cheese, popcorn, and nuts
  • foods with added sugars and no-calorie sweeteners
  • high-sodium foods

Babies this age are likely showing more interest in table foods. You can fork-mash, cut up, blend, or grind whatever foods the rest of the family eats. To prevent choking, cook table foods a little longer, until very soft, and cut or shred them into small pieces that your baby can handle safely.

Around 9 months old, infant usually can pick food up between their finger and thumb so they can try feeding themselves.

If you haven't already, have your baby join the rest of the family at meals. They enjoy being at the table.

After the first birthday, babies are ready to switch to cow's milk. If you're breastfeeding, you can continue beyond 1 year, if desired. If you decide to stop breastfeeding before your baby's first birthday, give iron-fortified formula. If your baby is over 12 months, give whole milk.

Let your baby keep working on drinking from a cup, but do not give juice to infants younger than 12 months. After 12 months, you can serve whole milk in a cup, which will help with the move from the bottle.

Feeding Safety

Always supervise when your child is eating. Make sure your child sits up in a high chair or other safe place. Don't serve foods that your baby could choke on. 

If you're unsure about whether a finger food is safe, ask yourself:

  • Does it melt in the mouth? Some dry cereals will melt in the mouth, and so will light and flaky crackers.
  • Is it cooked enough so that it mashes easily? Well-cooked vegetables and fruits will mash easily. So will canned fruits and vegetables. (Choose canned foods that don't have added sugar or salt.)
  • Is it naturally soft? Cottage cheese, shredded cheese, and small pieces of tofu are soft.
  • Can it be gummed? Pieces of ripe banana and well-cooked pasta can be gummed.

Making Meals Work

Keep your baby's personality in mind when feeding your baby. A child who likes a lot of stimulation may enjoy it when you "play airplane" with the spoon to get the food into their mouth. But a more sensitive tot might need the focus kept on eating with few distractions. 

If your baby rejects new tastes and textures, serve new foods in small portions and don’t give up. It can take 8-10 tries before a baby accepts a new food.

How Much Should My Baby Eat?

Infant formula and breast milk continue to provide important nutrients for growing infants. But babies will start to drink less as they learn to eat variety of solid foods.

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.

Let your baby finger feed or hold a spoon while you do the actual feeding. This is good preparation for the toddler years, when kids take charge of feeding themselves. And if you haven't already, set regular meal and snack times.

who is entitled to and how to apply under the law

Free meals for schoolchildren are one of the measures of social support and stimulation of society - in particular, the younger generation. We talk about who can count on free meals at school in 2022

Alena Gerashchenko


Artem Tabunin

CEO of the Aksioma processing center,
Service for accounting for preferential and paid meals in schools

Anna Ryzhkova

Editorial Director of the group
Action Education

Dmitry Karpukhin

Candidate of Legal Sciences

Federal Law No. 273 -FZ "On Education in the Russian Federation" regulates the issues of education and support for schoolchildren and students. On March 1, 2020, it was amended to provide primary school students with free meals. The changes came into force on September 1, 2020 and affected the way food is provided, as well as the quality and safety requirements for food used to prepare breakfasts and lunches in schools. Previously, school cafeterias were also subject to federal safety regulations, but the provision of food was left to educational organizations. Meals were mostly paid: teachers collected money for lunches and took organized groups of children to buffets. Now everything has changed. By September 1, 2023, schools must fully provide each student in grades 1-4 with at least one hot meal per day (not including a hot drink). Money for food comes from the state budget of different levels. nine0003

Who is eligible for free school meals

Free hot meals are provided to all students in grades 1 to 4 without exception. But only once during the school day. Moreover, it can be either lunch with soup or breakfast with hot porridge. What and when schoolchildren will eat, each school decides for itself, based on the recommendations of doctors.

There are still two free meals a day for students with disabilities. At the same time, disabled children studying at home receive dry rations. nine0004

Children from low-income families can also count on two free meals a day. This measure of support for low-income families is called state social assistance.

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How meals at school

As follows from the regulatory documents and as noted by Dmitry Karpukhin, Ph.D. in Law, Associate Professor of the Department of International and Public Law of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, parents are not required to submit any special application for the provision of free meals to their children studying in primary school. This right is unconditional.

But in order for the food in the school cafeteria to be of high quality and safe, parents need to inform the school about the health status of their children, their diagnoses, whether there is an allergy to any food and how it manifests itself. Although this is advisory in nature: parents themselves decide what information about the child's health to provide and whether it should be done. nine0004

Your child's health information can be submitted in any format, paper or electronic. These can be certificates from doctors, from clinics, test results showing, for example, that a child has clearly expressed allergens in the blood. Any information about the health of the student will be useful to the school and will allow it to adjust the menu to suit individual needs.

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Documents to collect

However, if we are talking about free two meals a day for students with disabilities or children from low-income families, then a package of documents will be needed. nine0003

1) Prepare the child's birth certificate and its SNILS, if available.

2) Fill out an application for the provision of food at the expense of the city budget, submit it on the mos.ru website (Moscow) or send it to the social protection authorities (for other cities).

3) Certificates confirming that the child has a disability and (or) documents on the parents' income confirming the family's status as low-income can be attached to the application. In Moscow, the term for consideration of documents is 8 days. But in general, it should not exceed 30 days. nine0004

4) Take the received certificate of preferential meals to the class teacher along with all documents on the child's health, which will allow you to create a menu for him.

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Popular Questions and Answers

What law regulates the right to food in school?

Anna Ryzhkova, editorial director of the Action Education group :

- The right to food at school is enshrined in Federal Law No. 273-FZ "On Education in the Russian Federation". Also, food intake by schoolchildren is regulated by Federal Law No. 29-FZ “On the Quality and Safety of Food Products”. Another act regulating school nutrition is Federal Law No. 47-FZ of March 1, 2020 “On Amendments to the Federal Law “On the Quality and Safety of Food Products” and Article 37 of the Federal Law “On Education in the Russian Federation”. nine0003

Why is food provided only in elementary schools?

Artem Tabunin, General Director of the processing center "Axioma", a service for accounting for preferential and paid meals in schools :

- It is unequivocally difficult to answer why hot meals will be provided only to elementary school students. Perhaps the reason is that feeding all the elementary school students is a big burden on the budget. In 2021, 46 billion was spent on innovation. Nutrition for all schoolchildren would require twice as much, and the financial block of the Government of the Russian Federation simply would not miss such a legislative initiative. nine0003

Anna Ryzhkova :

- Healthy hot meals at primary school age are very important for the formation of healthy eating habits. The older the children, the more difficult it is to change their eating habits. So we started with younger students.

Where can I download a sample application for free school meals?

Dmitry Karpukhin, Ph.D. In this regard, a unified sample application for free school meals has not been developed. But if the school offers to fill it out, then you can find such an application on the official website of the educational institution. nine0003

Can I refuse free meals?

Artyom Tabunin :

- We keep records of expenses in schools and see that food coverage in the lower grades has grown to 99%. You can opt out of free meals. But it is surprising that there are parents who write statements containing such refusals. There is no unified application form. Therefore, parents, if they believe that the child should eat exclusively homemade food, can make it up themselves. nine0004

Anna Ryzhkova :

- If a parent does not wish to receive a benefit, schools must take a waiver. It will serve as evidence for the verifiers that the food was offered to the child.

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Cover photo: Alexey Bulatov

Does your child get free school meals? Did you encounter any problems while applying for it? Share in the comments:

Comments for the site Cackl e

Optimal nutrition for children aged 2 to 5 years on Mon, 10/11/2021 - 15:35

 In your baby's second year, you learned about their nutritional needs, food choices and how to prepare them, got to know your baby's habits, and overcame challenges. Perhaps, from the third year, the attention of parents is more focused on other activities and needs of the child. However, remember that nutrition is still one of the key factors in helping a child grow and reach their potential. A quality, balanced diet is an effective prevention of health problems later in life, such as obesity, diabetes, heart and blood vessel disease. nine0238 

What and how much a child should eat

  • Children between the ages of two and five usually grow about seven centimeters and gain about two kilograms per year. After two years of age (up to four years), for normal growth and weight gain, a child should consume 1300 calories per day. However, calorie requirements vary depending on the activity as well as the constitution of the child and his metabolism, so do not worry if your child does not eat as much as you expect. nine0245
  • Appetite is variable at this age, higher at some times, but often decreases when the child is tired or agitated. Children love to use their own cutlery with meals, and using baby utensils will also help determine the appropriate portion size for a child.
  • The child should be offered a variety of foods from all five food groups. A variety of nutrients are essential for the maintenance of bodily functions and the healthy development of its systems and brain. The basis of nutrition at this age is similar to that of adults, but the amount varies. nine0245
  • After the second year of life, instead of whole milk, 2-3% fat milk can be offered, the volume should not exceed approximately 500 ml per day (if there is no allergy to cow's milk). It is permissible to consume juice no more than 120 ml per day.
  • In natural products, various groups of vitamins are contained in optimal ratios, the most effective form of intake of nutrients into the body and the best for their absorption is their natural consumption with food and daily presence in the child's diet. If your child eats a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables and grains, then at this age he will not need additional vitamin supplements. nine0245
  • Foods and drinks high in sugar and salt should be avoided (thick juices, sugary cereals, chips, sweets, pastries, etc.)

When and how a child should eat

  • The optimal diet is when meals are frequent, portions are small (usually three meals a day and two snacks between them). Your child should receive three equal meals each day, which must not be skipped or combined. Meals should be arranged at approximately the same time each day. nine0245
  • Breakfast should be in the first hour after waking up. It gives the necessary energy to start the day; and a child who is used to having breakfast at home will have less desire to snack in canteens, cafes and bakeries.
  • The remaining meals are scheduled at intervals of two to three hours. The last meal should be at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Try to diversify your baby's menu with new ideas and cooking methods. Children love colorful, beautifully presented food. nine0245
  • Snacks should be offered between meals because it is difficult for a young child to provide the required calories and nutrients in just three main meals. They are also convenient for introducing new food, often the child first takes it as a snack.

The habits of proper nutrition, laid down in childhood, remain for life

The skills that we acquire in the early years accompany us throughout our lives. Therefore, it is extremely important to teach a child to eat properly in order to eliminate many negative factors that provoke the development of various diseases, as well as to ensure the full growth and development of the child. One of the most valuable gifts we can give a child is to teach him how to make good choices when it comes to food, so that he is ready to give preference to healthy foods, to forego the many negative alternatives that are readily available at the present time. nine0004

Eating is much more than food.

You determine:

  • What the child eats - all kinds of foods: cereals, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products.
  • Who feeds or supervises the feeding (feeding must be accompanied by an adult).
  • When the child eats, if possible, at about the same time: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. A child needs habits and routines that create a sense of security. nine0245
  • Where the child eats - at the table, the younger one is on a chair, the older one is on a chair. Whenever possible, gather more family members together at meals.

The child determines:

  • Whether he will eat what he is offered or not. If your child says no, offer another meal (up to ten times) of the food he doesn't take. Maybe in some other form, with some other food he likes to eat. Be patient and understanding. nine0245
  • How much will he eat. Put less on your plate, and add more if needed. Don't force your child to eat whatever you put on the plate. Let the younger child eat with their fingers, teach the older ones how to use cutlery.

For optimal growth and development of your baby and the formation of good habits, it is important not only what and how much the child eats, but also when, how and where he eats, who feeds the child or looks after him during meals. By the age of two, your toddler has developed enough motor skills to eat unassisted and should be allowed to do so. It is worth being more tolerant of childish "ill manners" at the table and the mess associated with this. Just keep showing your child your good manners and he/she will learn from you. A child at this age has to figure out what he likes and doesn't like, and this can be very time consuming for you and drag out your meal times. nine0004

At the age of three, a child can use a spoon and fork. He or she will most likely be looking for their favorite food (often sweets) and she or he may need the same food for several days in a row. Children love to help in the kitchen and play "cooking". From an early age, teach your child to eat at the table, chew every bite, never rush or talk while a bite is in your mouth. If you start teaching your baby to eat with the rest of the family early, your child will quickly learn that food is both a time for communication and pleasant family moments, he will learn to enjoy it.

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