What food should be introduced to babies first
Feeding Your 4- to 7-Month-Old (for Parents)
Most babies this age are ready to try solid foods. Experts recommend starting solid foods when a baby is about 6 months old, depending on the baby's readiness and nutritional needs.
Be sure to check with your doctor before giving any solid foods.
Is My Baby Ready to Eat Solid Foods?
How can you tell if your baby is ready for solids? Here are a few hints:
- Does your baby swallow food or push it out of their mouth? Babies have a natural tongue-thrust reflex that pushes food back out. Wait until this reflex disappears (typically when babies are 4–6 months old).
- Can your baby support their own head? To eat solid food, an infant needs good head and neck control and should be able to sit up.
- Is your baby interested in food? Babies who stare, reach and grab, and open their mouths for food are ready to try solid foods.
If your doctor gives the go-ahead but your baby seems frustrated or uninterested in solid foods, try waiting a few days before trying again. Breast milk and formula will still meet nutritional needs as your baby learns to eat solid foods. But after 6 months, babies need the added nutrition — like iron and zinc — that solid foods provide.
Do not add cereal or other food to your baby's bottle because it can lead to too much weight gain.
Watch for signs that your child is hungry or full. Respond to these cues and let your child stop when full. A child who is full may suck with less enthusiasm, stop, or turn away from the breast or the bottle. With solid foods, they may turn away, refuse to open their mouth, or spit the food out.
How Should I Start Feeding My Baby Solid Foods?
When your baby is ready and the doctor says it’s OK to try solid foods, pick a time of day when your baby is not tired or cranky. You want your baby to be a little hungry, but not so hungry that they’re upset. So you might want to give your baby a little breast milk or formula first.
Have your baby sit supported in your lap or in a high chair with a safety strap.
Most babies' first food is iron-fortified infant single-grain cereal mixed with breast milk or formula. Place the spoon near your baby's lips, and let the baby smell and taste it. Don't be surprised if this first spoonful is rejected. Wait a minute and try again. Most food offered to your baby at this age will end up on the baby's chin, bib, or high-chair tray. Again, this is just an introduction.
When your little one gets the hang of eating cereal off a spoon, it may be time to try single-ingredient puréed meat, vegetables, or fruit. The order in which you give them doesn't matter, but go slow. Offer foods that are high in iron and zinc — such as meat, poultry, eggs, and beans — especially if your baby is breastfeeding. Try one food at a time and wait several days before trying something else new. This will let you identify any foods that your baby may be allergic to.
Which Foods Should I Avoid?
Foods that are more likely to cause allergies can be among the foods you introduce to your baby. These include peanuts, eggs, cow’s milk, seafood, nuts, wheat, and soy. Waiting to start these foods does not prevent food allergies. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about food allergies, especially if any close family members have allergies, food allergies, or allergy-related conditions, like eczema or asthma.
Infants with severe eczema or egg allergies are more likely to have allergies to peanuts. Talk to your doctor about how and when to introduce these foods to your child.
Possible signs of food allergy or allergic reactions include:
- bloating or an increase in gassiness
Get medical care right away if your baby has a more severe allergic reaction, like hives, drooling, wheezing, or trouble breathing.
If your child has any type of reaction to a food, don't offer that food again until you talk with your doctor.
Babies shouldn't have:
- foods with added sugars and no-calorie sweeteners
- high-sodium foods
- honey, until after the first birthday. It can cause botulism in babies.
- unpasteurized juice, milk, yogurt, or cheese
- regular cow's milk or soy beverages before 12 months instead of breast milk or formula. It’s OK to offer pasteurized yogurt and cheese.
- foods that may cause choking, such as hot dogs, raw carrots, grapes, popcorn, and nuts
Tips for Feeding Your Baby Solid Foods
With the hectic pace of family life, most parents try commercially prepared baby foods at first. They come in small, convenient containers, and manufacturers must meet strict safety and nutrition guidelines.
If you prepare your own baby foods at home, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Follow the rules for food safety, including washing your hands well and often.
- To preserve the nutrients in your baby's food, cook it in ways that keep the most vitamins and minerals. Try steaming or baking fruits and vegetables instead of boiling, which washes away the nutrients.
- Freeze portions that you aren't going to use right away.
- Whether you buy the baby food or make it yourself, texture and consistency are important. At first, babies should have finely puréed single-ingredient foods. (Just applesauce, for example, not apples and pears mixed together.)
- After your baby is eating individual foods, it's OK to offer a puréed mix of two foods. As babies get older, they will learn to eat a greater variety of tastes and textures.
- If you use prepared baby food in jars, spoon some of the food into a bowl to feed your baby. Do not feed your baby right from the jar — bacteria from the baby's mouth can contaminate the remaining food. If you refrigerate opened jars of baby food, it's best to throw away anything not eaten within a day or two.
- Around 6 months of age is a good time for your baby to try a cup. You might need to try a few cups to find one that works for your child. Use water at first to avoid messy clean-ups. Do not give juice to infants younger than 12 months.
Over the next few months, introduce a variety of foods from all the food groups. If your baby doesn't seem to like something, don’t give up. It can take 8 to 10 tries or more before babies learn to like new foods.
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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Complementary foods - what is it and how is it eaten?
Loginevskaya Yana Vladimirovna Pediatrician
What is weaning and when should we start it? These and many other issues related to child nutrition torment young parents. In the era of the Internet and easy access to information, this information can sometimes become too much.
Let's find out what complementary foods are
Complementary foods is the introduction into the diet of a healthy child at a certain age of any food products, home or industrially prepared, that supplement breast milk or food that imitates it, and contribute to the gradual transfer of the child to the general table. As a rule, complementary foods are thicker in consistency than the child's previous food. If the child has any health problems, the introduction of complementary foods may have its own characteristics.
The purpose of complementary foods in the first year of life is to introduce the baby to foods other than breast milk/or formula. Timely teach to swallow and chew solid food. And also to avoid deficiency of energy and micronutrients, and vitamins.
In the literature and other sources, you can find such names as "pediatric" and "pedagogical" complementary foods?
Pediatric Complementary Food , as its name implies, is a classic complementary feeding regimen recommended by the pediatrician at the appointment. Schemes in which there is a gradual replacement of breast milk / formula feeding with cereals, fruit / vegetable purees and other types of products.
Pedagogical complementary food - "Pedagogical" means that first of all the child is taught - they are taught to eat, the correct behavior at the table, they teach that food is joy and pleasure, they show new tastes. The essence of pedagogical complementary foods is that the child’s nutrition begins with “microdoses” (grains of food) that the child receives from his mother’s plate, nothing is puréed or blended, or even warmed up. Nutrition of the child - together with the family, how much he will eat, he will eat so much. Nothing is specially prepared, the family is invited to switch to a healthy diet. The disadvantage of this type of complementary foods is that the child, starting with “micro doses”, does not adequately increase the volume of complementary foods, which can lead to malnutrition of the child at an older age.
In my article, I will rely on modern research and recommendations primarily from the WHO (World Health Organization) and the National Program for Optimizing Feeding in Children in the First Year of Life in the Russian Federation.
What requirements must be met in relation to complementary foods:
- Complementary foods must be timely, introduced at the moment when the child's energy and nutrient requirements exceed what can be provided through breastfeeding (or formula).
- Complementary foods should be adequate, that is, with enough energy, protein and micronutrients to meet the nutritional needs of a growing child.
- Safe - Store or prepare hygienically and feed with clean hands using clean utensils - spoons, plates, not bottles or teats.
- Properly Administered - The child is fed appropriately for hunger cues, and feeding frequency and feeding methods should be appropriate for the child's age.
When do we introduce complementary foods
The optimal age for the introduction of complementary foods is 6 months.
If the child is premature, then the timing of the introduction of complementary foods is delayed by as much as this child was born earlier (that is, if the child was born not at 40 weeks, but, for example, at 36, we have the right to postpone the introduction of complementary foods for 4 weeks, but if we see that at 6 months the child is already quite ready for the introduction of complementary foods, then you can start as early as 6 months). It is advisable to postpone the introduction of complementary foods for no more than 2 months. Try to start the introduction of complementary foods no later than 8 months of the child.
Up to 6 months, breastfeeding fully covers the energy needs of the child. Around 6 months of age, a baby's energy requirements increase dramatically, so it is necessary to add something to his diet in addition to liquid food. Breast milk in terms of its energy value contains 67-68 kcal / 100g, the mixture has approximately the same figures. Breast milk remains a valuable energy product for children not only in the first year of life, but also after a year. At the same time, it should be taken into account that the volume of the child's stomach by 6 months is about 200 ml, so the food introduced to the child must be thicker than formula or breast milk, otherwise we will still not be able to meet the energy needs of the body. The optimal calorie content of complementary foods should be at least 100 kcal / 100 g.
Liquid food and liquid quickly fill the stomach. To fill the energy deficit, it is necessary to introduce foods with a higher energy value than breast milk or formula.
WHO ways to increase calories:
cook with less liquid
Replace part of the water for cooking with breast milk or a mixture (it must be borne in mind that breast milk contains enzymes (lipase) - which begin the digestion and breakdown of food even before it enters the child's body, so instant cereals, when breast milk is added, immediately become liquid, but their energy value is not lost.
What do we focus on when introducing complementary foods:
The main criterion is the readiness of the child to introduce complementary foods - the child shows interest in food, the so-called food interest - he is interested in what his mother eats, actively reaches for food from his parents' plate, wants to taste it.
- Child's age about 6 months
- Decreased solid food ejection reflex (active interest in food is never shown until ejection reflex fades)
- Doubling birth weight (optional item, some babies double their weight before 6 months of age)
- Child can sit with support
- The first teeth appear in a child (again, not always)
Principles of maintaining interest in food
- Parents should remember that in order to form the main criterion for readiness for complementary foods, the child must see how his family eats. The formation of eating habits comes from the family and the immediate environment of the child. If, before 6 months, the child has never seen how mom or dad eats, how they eat at the table and what they eat, he may not have a food interest by 6 months. Food interest begins to gradually form as a skill of tracking the actions of an adult from 3 months of age. That is, somewhere from the age of 3 months the child, if you take him with you to the kitchen (dining room), the child begins to observe the process of eating, and gradually this interest - from the interest of "observation" goes to the "desire" to try just like mom or dad.
- It is advisable not to feed the baby separately and try to eat with the baby what the baby eats. If you are feeding your child with industrial food (ready-made mashed potatoes in a jar), then try this food with your child. Try to bring the canned food as close as possible to the general view on the table - transfer the puree from the can to a plate, give a spoon. At the age of 8-10 months, the child learns to eat with his hands, so at this age it is advisable that the child has small pieces of food on the plate that he already eats - these can be pieces of boiled potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, pieces of apple, banana. The pieces should be small, 1 x 1 cm, so that the child can grab them with his fingers. In parallel, the mother can supplement the child from the plate with the main food. The child learns to cope with more solid food, learns to chew, swallow. The sooner the skill of swallowing more solid food is worked out, the easier it is for parents in the future. At the age of 10-12 months, the child's fine motor skills are already improving, he is learning to eat with a spoon (be patient, different children do it in different ways and at different speeds)
- Be mindful of the child's physical condition - do not introduce new foods when the child is unwell or tired or teething or has undergone some medical procedure such as a vaccination
- Offer small portions. Some children undereat food because they are initially intimidated by the portion size. Do not insist that the child finishes the portion. Let him ask for another after some time
- Try to keep the area around the child clean! This initially teaches the child to cleanliness at the table and to a neat diet. Some children are very sensitive to external stimuli - dirty hands, face, clothes can cause them severe discomfort
- Help the child if you see that the child is "interested" in food, but is tired of fighting with it.
- No games, entertainment or persuasion while eating - in this way you replace food interest with interest in the game. The child will not be able to learn to adequately assess their desires in food. Don't turn food into a show.
Complementary feeding rules:
any new product is introduced only to a healthy child. A breastfed baby is given complementary foods up to the breast.
the introduction of new foods should not coincide with vaccinations, teething, vacations, or other stress for the child (when stressed, the child may refuse the proposed new product).
any new product is introduced in the morning (so parents have time to observe the child, look at his reaction, notice allergic manifestations) If the child has a reaction to a new product, then it is better to write it down, and try to introduce the product again after 5- 10 days. Because this reaction may not be related to the product, but caused by other factors. If the negative reaction is repeated, then the introduction of this product is postponed for 3 months.
it is advisable to introduce no more than one new product per day.
to get acquainted with the product, the child sometimes needs 10-15 sentences in order for him to start eating it. The reaction of the child in the form of wrinkling, pushing food, curvature of the face does not indicate that the child did not like the food, but only that the new taste is very bright for him and causes a large number of emotions. For children, even neutral tastes can seem very rich, due to the higher sensitivity of the receptors. Therefore, when introductory feeding, it is not recommended to use spices and salt in the preparation of food for the child.
Basic complementary foods
For the first feeding, there are three main types of products: cereals, vegetables and meat.
Cereals - Dairy-free cereals are used to start complementary foods. Rice, corn, buckwheat are the first to be introduced - these can be special “instant” baby cereals (we carefully study the composition, make sure that there are no additives, sweeteners, flavor enhancers, vitamins), instant cereals are well suited to start complementary foods, at 6-7 months, in the future you can switch to ordinary "adult" cereals, you can grind ready-made buckwheat or rice with a blender or fork; instant porridges in the form of flakes are also good. Then the rest of the cereals (oatmeal, rye, millet) are introduced. With an allergic burden in the family, the introduction of milk porridges earlier than 12 months is not recommended.
Vegetables – first add green/white vegetables (zucchini, cucumber, broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage and cauliflower), then legumes, colored vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, beets, tomato)
Meat - the beginning of feeding with the most easily digestible and hypoallergenic meats - rabbit, turkey, then veal, beef, pork, lamb. Children with an allergy to cow's milk protein start complementary foods first with pork, then they introduce beef. Children with allergies are also trying to limit the introduction of chicken into the diet, as it is a highly allergenic product. Lamb is introduced to children no earlier than 10 months. Poultry meat - duck, goose - contains refractory fats and is not recommended for introduction into the diet of babies under 3 years of age.
Fruit and dairy products are not considered essential complementary foods. Can be given for table variety. If the mother wants to give fruits, berries and juices to the child, it is better to use them as a flavoring additive to the main complementary foods or even postpone the introduction to an older age. In children with an allergic tendency, it is recommended not to introduce dairy products up to a year. You have to be careful with berries and fruits. It is best to start complementary foods with seasonal fruits and berries; the least and least likely to cause allergies are currants, blueberries, apples, pears, plums. Allergic reactions often occur on strawberries, bananas, citrus fruits.
Fish and seafood. Not a staple complementary food. But fish, like meat, is a source of protein, rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, as well as minerals and vitamins. It is recommended to introduce fish no earlier than 9-10 months. Again, if the child is allergic, it is advisable to refrain from introducing fish products up to 1 year. We begin to introduce complementary foods with low-fat white varieties of fish in the form of mashed potatoes - ice fish, hake, cod, haddock, pollock, navaga, pike perch, sea bass, dorado.
Egg . A product that is rich in many different micro and macro elements, vitamins. However, the egg has a very high allergenicity (included in the very big eight allergens). Considering that a quarter (5-6 g) or half (10-12 g) of the yolk, which are recommended to be administered, contains very few nutrients and energy, it is easier not to give this product than to risk allergic reactions in a child.
Whole nuts, peanuts should not be present in a child's diet until at least three years of age. In a number of countries, communities, families, where, for example, peanuts are common as a staple food, they can be used as an additive to complementary foods in a pureed state. Nuts are included in the big eight allergens and are not recommended for introduction into complementary foods for children with allergies up to three years of age.
Water . After the introduction of complementary foods, children can begin to offer water as a drink. First as an introduction, later as an additional source of fluid, while reducing the volume of breast milk (mixture). It should be pure water without any additives. It is important to remember that breastfed babies may go without water for quite a long time, due to the fact that they receive enough liquid from breast milk.
Tea . The World Health Organization does not recommend including tea in the diet of children under 2 years of age. Why? First of all, because of the tannins that are present in tea and can help reduce the absorption of trace elements, including iron and cause anemia. Tea also contains caffeine (it is found in a state associated with tannins and is more often called theine), which can cause excessive stimulating effect on the fragile nervous system of the child., It can also lead to increased heart rate, increased peristalsis of the stomach, increased body temperature - all this can adversely affect the general condition of the child.
- Salt, sugar are not recommended for introduction into complementary foods under 1 year of age. Spices are introduced into the diet of a child after 2 years of age. These recommendations are based on the high sensitivity of the receptors in young children and the taste of tasteless dishes for children, even for us, is much brighter and richer.
WHAT to feed - the choice of parents. But it must be remembered that no single product (except for breast milk for children in the first months of life) can provide the body with all the nutrients, therefore, when compiling complementary foods, a variety of products should be combined. It is important that during the introduction of complementary foods, children receive pleasant taste sensations from the process of eating, this contributes to a better adaptation to new foods.
Don't be afraid to introduce solid foods to your babies. For advice on feeding children of different ages, you can always contact the specialists of our center.
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What foods can be given to a baby at 4 months
Reviewer Kovtun Tatiana Anatolievna
September 06, 2022
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Most often, the need for complementary foods at four months arises according to individual indications. How to properly introduce the baby to adult food and what to offer him?
Breast milk or infant formula recommended by a specialist remains a key and indispensable product for a baby up to a year of life, and it is better, according to the recommendations of the World Health Organization, to keep it up to two years. But in some cases, a specialist may recommend the first purees at the age of more than four months of age.
The decision on early complementary feeding should be made by parents together with the specialist who is watching the child. He will tell you what to pay attention to and what products to offer the baby in the first place.
If your baby needs complementary foods at four months, don't worry that it's too early. At this time, the gastrointestinal tract of some children is already becoming quite mature. In a baby, the permeability of the mucous membrane of the small intestine decreases and a number of digestive enzymes mature. The child can already swallow semi-liquid food.
What can a baby eat at 4 months
For the first feeding of the baby, choose either dairy-free baby porridge or baby vegetable puree.
Then add meat puree (over 6 months old), fruit puree and juices, baby dairy products (over 8 months old), fish puree (over 8 months old), egg yolk, as well as vegetable and butter.
Usually, a specialist, based on the condition of the child, determines in what order to offer products, and builds a nutrition scheme.
In the fifth month of life, the diet of crumbs may include porridge and vegetable purees. This recommendation does not take into account the individual characteristics of the baby and must be agreed with a specialist. Only he will tell you exactly what you can feed a baby at 4 months.
Complementary feeding rules at four months of age
You need to offer the dish with ½ teaspoon in the morning. So parents can track the reaction of the crumbs to a new product during the day. At the same time, you need to introduce the baby to only one product and gradually increase its volume over several days. As soon as the child tastes it, you can offer something else.
Simultaneously with the introduction of complementary foods, you need to acquaint the baby with the basic rules of etiquette. Meals should be arranged only at the table in a special chair, so that the child immediately gets used to the rules in the house.
Sample menu for a 4 month old baby
When the baby gets acquainted with the basic products for the first feeding, you can build the first menu. In the morning after the main feeding, he can be offered a new product. The diet of a 4-month-old baby should be agreed with a specialist.
Buy ready-made puree or make your own
Many parents enjoy cooking for their children, and some prefer ready-made mashed potatoes. In the first case, you need to spend more time: for example, select vegetables, wash them and steam them.