When can a baby eat 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

The child does not eat food from the school canteen - what to do? | Mel

A problem familiar to many parents: in kindergarten, the child ate almost everything, but refuses to eat dishes from the school canteen. It's not scary if the child goes home after school, but what if he stays for an extension? How and what should he eat all day? We deal with the food hygiene doctor from the Center for Hygiene Education of Rospotrebnadzor Alexander Gavrilin. nine0004

Question. The child goes to the extension, but almost does not eat food from the school canteen - like many of his other classmates. But then what to feed him all day? Can the school help warm up the food he takes with him in the lunch box? And if he eats hot only 2 times a day - in the morning at home for breakfast and in the evening at home for dinner - and snacking on yogurt, fruits, cookies all day long is not harmful?

Answer. The optimal diet for schoolchildren: three main meals with a hot dish and at least two additional meals (lunch, afternoon snack). If an additional meal is food at night, then this implies that the child must receive it at least two hours before bedtime. nine0004

The first and foremost thing is breakfast at home. It has long been scientifically proven that after a full breakfast, people do not overeat even during the day, and this is especially important for a child, given the stress he experiences in the learning process. Meals should be distributed taking into account the schedule of classes at school and additional classes. Approaches should be individual and flexible.

Breakfast should be heavy, with the presence of protein sources (eggs, cottage cheese and other dairy products). Include meat and fish dishes in lunch and dinner. Vegetable dishes (for example, salads, vegetable side dishes and soups, fresh vegetables) should be offered 2-3 times a day. nine0004

A healthy diet presupposes the presence of protein products: meat, fish, dairy products. Vegetables and fruits must be present - fresh and in any other form, grain products, bakery products - best of all from second-grade wholemeal flour. Drying and nuts cannot be the basis of the diet. Therefore, I am for hot meals at least three times a day.

If the child is in school for more than 4 hours, he must be provided with hot meals. The number of meals will depend on the duration and organization of the educational process. Children's meals are organized through the implementation at the school of the main menu, which includes hot meals, additional meals, as well as individual menus for children in need of medical and dietary nutrition. The exclusion of hot meals from the menu, as well as its replacement with buffet products, is not allowed. nine0004

The school menu is approved by the head of the educational organization, taking into account the sanitary rules for public catering, the principles of healthy eating, which are legally enshrined in the 29th Federal Law, and the norms of physiological needs for energy and nutrients for children. In addition to the main menu, children should also have the possibility of additional nutrition, for example, through buffet products. But, of course, replacing the main hot dishes with flour products is unacceptable.

Before each serving of food in the school cafeteria, marriage is carried out, that is, tasting, evaluation of taste and temperature indicators. Everything is documented and recorded in a separate marriage journal daily. nine0004

It is not against the rules to bring food from home to school

Just explain to the child that you do not need to share this food: his friend or girlfriend may have an allergy. There is no mandatory requirement to provide students with the opportunity to warm up the dishes they brought with them in the sanitary rules. The possibility of such an option should be discussed with the school administration.

The parent has the right to be aware of the school menu. It can also influence its compilation. Today it is a normal practice, together with the school administration and the advice of the parent community, to improve the quality of food, including making changes to the menu so that they meet all the necessary sanitary and hygienic requirements and at the same time are pleasant for children and parents.

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