When can babies start tasting foods
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
In Baby's 'First Bite,' A Chance To Shape A Child's Taste : The Salt : NPR
Heard on Fresh Air
Food writer Bee Wilson says that babies are most open to trying new flavors between the ages of 4 and 7 months. Duane Ellison/iStock hide caption
Food writer Bee Wilson says that babies are most open to trying new flavors between the ages of 4 and 7 months.
Food writer Bee Wilson has a message of hope for parents struggling to get their children to eat their veggies: "As parents, we have a far greater power than we think we have to form children's tastes," Wilson tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
In her new book, First Bite, Wilson examines how genetics, culture, memory and early feeding patterns contribute to our food preferences. She says that a child's palate can be formed even before birth. And this insight can be helpful for parents who want their children to eat well and healthfully.
Wilson is also the author of Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat. Charlotte Griffiths/Basic Books hide caption
Charlotte Griffiths/Basic Books
Wilson is also the author of Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat.
Charlotte Griffiths/Basic Books
"One of the main things we know about taste is that liking is a consequence of familiarity, so the things that our mothers eat, even before we're born, affect the way we'll respond to those flavors when we later encounter them because they seem familiar," Wilson says.
A mother of three, Wilson notes that babies are most open to trying new flavors between the ages of 4 and 7 months. But, Wilson adds, even if parents miss introducing a food during the so-called "flavor window," all hope is not lost.
"It's not that the flavor window then flips shut ... and we can never learn to love bitter green vegetables. Humans can learn to love new flavors at any age," Wilson says. "One of the amazing things about our relationship with food is how malleable it is, how plastic it is. But we don't usually as adults give ourselves an opportunity to change. "
On the "flavor window" that occurs between 4 and 7 months
Researchers I've spoken to [about] the question of how you get children to be less picky eaters [and] how you get them to try more different vegetables say that the World Health Organization advice, which currently says you should keep them on an exclusive milk diet up to 6 months, is wrong. It's not that a child necessarily needs any nutrition besides milk before 6 months, it's that you're missing an opportunity to introduce them to all of these flavors which they would likely accept at this age. Then, having accepted them, they would seem familiar when they encounter them again as toddlers.
On how our palates are formed while we're still in the womb
[Our palate is] formed [before breast-feeding] — it's formed when our mothers are expecting us. There have been remarkable studies done showing that if someone eats a lot of garlic when they're pregnant, their amniotic fluid will taste and smell garlicky. So imagine swimming around in that for 9 months. ... That baby will grow up to love garlic. ... It feels like home, it tastes like home. One of the main things we know about taste is that liking is a consequence of familiarity. So the things that our mothers eat, even before we're born, affect the way we'll respond to those flavors when we later encounter them because they seem familiar.
The flavor of milk is then hugely important as well. With mothers who breast-feed, there was a study done showing that if they drank a lot of carrot juice, when those babies first tasted solid food, they preferred cereal that was flavored with carrot juice. So the flavor of carrots goes into the [breast milk], the babies experience it, and then they have all of these wonderful, positive feelings about carrot. This is getting replicated many, many times. In most cases it's not something like carrot or broccoli. There have been studies done with rats who are fed on a junk food diet and their babies gravitate towards junk food rat chow.
On how store-bought formula can also affect taste long-term
Breast milk has varied flavors, whereas formula milk has a single flavor, depending on which brand you pick. But even with formula-fed babies there are some interesting things that have come out of scientific experiments. There's a type of formula called hydrolysate, which is designed for babies who can't tolerate regular cow's milk, and to adults it has a really offensive, horrible, hay-like, musty aroma. But to the babies who've been reared on it, it's like nectar. One study showed that these children, when they were older, when they're aged 4, gravitated towards sour flavors. So it was if they were imprinted with the flavor of this nasty formula milk. But, again, it's a really useful case of how powerful these early tastes can be. As parents, we have a far greater power than we think we have to form children's tastes.
On how we are hard-wired to love sweetness
All human beings are hard-wired to love sweetness. This is a cross-cultural phenomenon — it's been seen in babies in every continent of the world, that they smile if you offer them a little taste of something sweet. Equally, we all are born with a mild aversion to bitterness. And curiously, with salt, we have no feelings at all about salt when we're born. And then [by age] 4 months we get switched onto it and develop a salt preference, and nobody really knows why that's true. But with the sweetness thing — so, we're hard-wired to love sweetness. Many people have interpreted this to mean that we're doomed to grow up and love junk food. ... All of our specific tastes for particular flavors are learned. As omnivores, this has to be the case because human beings are forced to eat in such different food environments. So the fact that we love sweetness as a baby doesn't mean that we're going to love nothing but chocolate; we could get that sweetness in the form of corn on the cob, or caramelized fennel. All of our flavor preferences are ones that we learn over the course of a lifetime. The trouble is that most of us don't see it that way.
On how children's food has changed since World War II
If you look to previous generations, before the second world war, and indeed afterwards a bit, there was a nursery food mentality. So the idea was it was safest to give children foods that they didn't actually like, which were very plain but very nourishing. Then, in the postwar years, partly fueled by a transformation of the food supply, much greater industrialization, we went to a completely opposite view of what children's food should be. It was that it should be sweet and palatable and designed to make children smile. We all know that the kid's breakfast cereals are the ones which are highest in sugar in the whole of the cereal aisle. And it's really curious that we should've swung in this way from one extreme to another — from food which was nourishing but unpleasant, to food which was too pleasant and deeply un-nourishing. The ideal way to feed children would be somewhere in the middle. And actually, the ideal way to feed children would be to give them food that's not that dissimilar from an adult diet.
On authoritative, authoritarian and indulgent styles of feeding
An authoritative feeder would place high demands on the child to eat well. In other words, you wouldn't be stocking your house with loads of junk food. You'd make sure there were nutritious, home-cooked meals on the table, but equally you would be highly responsive to the child and their needs, and you would be respectful when they say "no." ... On the one hand, there are authoritarian forms of feeding. ... Force-feeding would be an extreme example, but also just any form of saying, "I demand that you eat this." ... "I want a clean plate." ... That style of feeding ... creates an unpleasant atmosphere at the dinner table, but, interestingly, research shows it also seems to result in children who are actually less responsive to their own hunger cues, so they're more likely to end up overweight, paradoxically. The parent who thinks that they're doing the right thing by insisting that you finish this nourishing meal is not allowing the child to develop their own skills, their own judgment about when they stop and when they start eating.
The other style of parenting, or feeding, would be indulgent. And there are signs that this is becoming one of the most common ways of feeding a child, and as with so much of what we do as parents, it comes with the most loving intentions. To feed a child in an indulgent way would be to be highly responsive to them as a person, what they love, what they seem to need, the foods they crave, the foods they demand, but the indulgent style would place no demands on them to eat well, or fewer demands. There'd be no sense of, "Are you really hungry?" There'd be no sense of, "Well, I only want you to have these foods because they're the ones that'll do you good." Again, there are studies done showing indulgent parenting is strongly correlated with higher child obesity. ...
Food and love are so bound up, it's sometimes hard to see where the sugar ends and the love begins.
It's such a wonderful feeling to see the treat disappear and to see the happy face. Feeding, no less than eating, is a learned behavior, and we learn to feed through our parents, who probably themselves rewarded us with food. Food and love are so bound up, it's sometimes hard to see where the sugar ends and the love begins.
What time do children start eating on their own?
Many mothers and fathers are often interested in: what time do children start eating on their own? There is no single answer to this question, everyone is individual. But it is important for parents to know: how to discern the first impulses for independence in time, at what age you can give your baby a spoon, how to teach him to eat without outside help, and what accessories will help the baby master this difficult science.
What time do children start eating by themselves with a spoon? nine0008
It depends on the character and development of the child, as well as on his parents. Some children already in the year flatly refuse to be fed with a spoon. But there are those who start eating on their own only at the age of 3, when they come to kindergarten (in a team, children involuntarily imitate others and the learning process goes faster). In large families, children learn self-service skills at an earlier age.
But overprotection hinders the development of the baby. If an overly caring mother tries to do everything for the child, then he will not strive to eat himself, even if he can do it. If parents are too much in favor of accuracy, and porridge smeared on the table causes them stress, then the learning process can slow down. After all, the baby feels the mood of adults, and prefers not to experiment at the table. The lack of independence can also be associated with an unwillingness to grow up. For example, another baby has appeared in the family, and the child, feeling that they are paying less attention to him, tries to “stay small”, wants his mother to take him in her arms more often, feed him from a spoon, etc. nine0005
From the age of 7 months a child usually learns to pick up and hold objects between thumb and forefinger, such as a dryer or a piece of bread. The child can be offered a spoon when he is already receiving complementary foods and sits well in the highchair. At first, the baby will only try to take the spoon in his hands and play with it, but later he will try to use it for its intended purpose. For drinking to a baby up to a year, a drinking mug is convenient.
At 12 months the child still does not hold the spoon correctly, but he knows how to bring it to his mouth, and part of the contents can reach the goal. Closer to two years, coordination improves significantly, the baby is capable of more precise movements and misses less and less. The kid can already hold a regular mug, but only with two hands. nine0005
From the age of 2 years a child can eat by himself with a spoon, although he does not always do it sloppy. He already holds a mug with one hand and knows how to use a fork.
From the age of 3 the baby becomes more dexterous and accurate, his fingers are getting stronger, and his movements are more confident. It is quite possible to give him a non-sharp children's knife, having previously shown how to use it.
Accessories to help children learn to eat on their own
Buy a baby plate with a suction cup so that the dishes do not run away from the child. It’s good if the child’s favorite character is drawn at the bottom of the plate. To see the picture, the baby will try quickly and eat all the food to the end.
The non-spill cup is the best option when switching to adult dishes. Choose a model with two handles, it is more convenient for your baby to hold. An additional advantage is the presence of a rubber stand, which gives the cup stability.
A special anatomically shaped spoon with a rounded non-slip handle and a curved fork with rounded teeth are best suited for babies up to a year old.
Paper napkins or towels should always be at hand. This teaches you to be careful, helps to avoid the temptation to wipe your hands on clothes.
It's good if a grown child eats at a common table. He will be able to watch adults, copy their actions. To do this, the baby will need a special chair that can be attached to a large table (for example, high chairs from IKEA, “growing” Stokke Tripp Trapp, Kotokota, KidFix, etc.)
Buy your baby a soft silicone bib, oilcloth or apron. This will help parents save their nerves and spend less time on laundry and cleaning.
How to teach a baby to eat without the help of adults?
If, during feeding, the baby tries to take away the mother's spoon and tries to eat by himself, then “the time has come”. Use this moment!
At first, it is difficult for the baby to eat liquid food on his own, such as soup. And he probably wants to take pieces of fruit or pasta with his hands. Therefore, the ideal food for the first workouts is porridge or vegetables, which must first be kneaded with a fork. nine0005
The game will be a good help in learning. You can train the skill in the sandbox. Help the baby to scoop up the sand with a spatula, carefully pour it into the mold, make a cake. Buy a set of toy dishes, let the child feed dolls and teddy bears with a small spoon. This improves coordination, develops fine motor skills and will help him handle real cutlery.
At the beginning of training, one spoon should be in the hands of the mother, and the second - in the child. She feeds the baby, and the baby is only trying to collect food himself and send it to her mouth. Thus, the baby will not remain hungry and at the same time will gradually improve his skills. nine0005
Support the child at this stage of growing up, do not scold for mistakes and praise for successes. The main thing is patience and confidence that everything will work out.
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In social networks90,000 of the child’s diet aged 4-6 months 9000
for your little girl has already been fulfilled for 4000
month. He has noticeably grown up, become more active, is interested in objects that fall into his field of vision, carefully examines and reaches for them. The emotional reactions of the child have become much richer: he joyfully smiles at all the people whom he often sees more and more often, makes various sounds. nine0005
You are still breastfeeding or have had to switch to formula or formula feeding. The child is actively growing, and only with breast milk or infant formula, he can no longer always get all the necessary nutrients. And that means it's time to think about complementary foods.
The optimal time to start its introduction is between 4 and 6 months, regardless of whether the baby is receiving breast milk or formula. This is the time when children respond best to new foods. Up to 4 months, the child is not yet ready to perceive and digest any other food. And with the late introduction of complementary foods - after 6 months, children already have significant deficiencies of individual nutrients and, first of all, micronutrients (minerals, vitamins, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, etc.). In addition, toddlers at this age often refuse new foods, they have delayed development of chewing skills for thick foods, and inadequate eating habits are formed. It is important to know that, no matter how strange it may seem at first glance, with a delayed appointment of complementary foods, allergic reactions more often occur on them. nine0005
When is it advisable to introduce complementary foods as early as 4 months, and when can you wait until 5.5 or even 6 months? To resolve this issue, be sure to consult a pediatrician.
As a rule, at an earlier age (4 - 4.5 months), complementary foods are introduced to children at risk of developing iron deficiency anemia, as well as children with insufficient weight gain and with functional digestive disorders.
The optimal time to start introducing complementary foods to a healthy baby is between 5 and 5.5 months of age. nine0005
The World Health Organization recommends that breastfed babies should be introduced to complementary foods from 6 months of age. From the point of view of domestic pediatricians, which is based on extensive practical experience and scientific research, this is possible only in cases where the child was born on time, without malnutrition (since in these cases the mineral reserves are very small), he is healthy, grows well and develops. In addition, the mother should also be healthy, eat well and use either specialized enriched foods for pregnant and lactating women, or vitamin and mineral complexes in courses. Such restrictions are associated with the depletion of iron stores even in a completely healthy child by 5-5.5 months of age and a significant increase in the risk of anemia in the absence of complementary foods rich or fortified with iron. There are other deficits as well. nine0005
The first complementary food can be vegetable puree or porridge, fruit puree is better to give the baby later - after tasty sweet fruits, children usually eat vegetable puree and cereals worse, often refuse them altogether.
Where is the best place to start? In cases where the child has a tendency to constipation or he puts on weight too quickly, preference should be given to vegetables. With a high probability of developing anemia, unstable stools and small weight gain - from baby cereals enriched with micronutrients. And if you started the introduction of complementary foods with cereals, then the second product will be vegetables and vice versa. nine0005
If the first complementary foods are introduced at 6 months, it must be baby porridge enriched with iron and other minerals and vitamins, the intake of which with breast milk is no longer enough.
Another important complementary food product is mashed meat. It contains iron, which is easily absorbed. And adding meat to vegetables improves the absorption of iron from them. It is advisable to introduce meat puree to a child at the age of 6 months. Only the daily use of children's enriched porridge and meat puree can satisfy the needs of babies in iron, zinc and other micronutrients. nine0005
But it is better to introduce juices later, when the child already receives the main complementary foods - vegetables, cereals, meat and fruits. After all, complementary foods are needed so that the baby receives all the substances necessary for growth and development, and there are very few in their juices, including vitamins and minerals.
Juices should not be given between feedings, but after the child has eaten porridge or vegetables with meat puree, as well as for an afternoon snack. The habit of drinking juice between meals leads to frequent snacking in the future, a love of sweets is instilled, children have more tooth decay and an increased risk of obesity. nine0005
With the start of the introduction of complementary foods, the child is gradually transferred to a 5-time feeding regimen.
Rules for the introduction of complementary foods:
- preference should be given to children's products of industrial production, they are made from environmentally friendly raw materials, have a guaranteed composition and degree of grinding
- Complementary foods should be offered to the baby by spoon at the start of feeding, before breastfeeding (formula feeding)
- the volume of the product increases gradually, starting with ½ - 1 spoon, and in 7 - 10 days we bring it to the age norm, subsequent products within the same group (cereals from other cereals or new vegetables)
- can be entered faster, in 5 - 7 days
- start introduction with monocomponent products
- it is undesirable to give a new product in the afternoon, it is important to follow how the child reacts to it
- new products are not introduced in the event of acute illness, and before and immediately after prophylactic vaccination (should be abstained for several days)
When introducing a new type of complementary food, try one food first, gradually increasing its amount, and then gradually "dilute" this product with a new one. For example, vegetable complementary foods can be started with a teaspoon of zucchini puree. During the week, give the baby only this product, gradually increasing its volume. After a week, add a teaspoon of mashed broccoli or cauliflower to the zucchini puree and continue to increase the total volume every day. Vegetable puree from three types of vegetables will be optimal. The portion should correspond to the age norm. Over time, you can replace the introduced vegetables with others faster. nine0005
After the introduction of one vegetable (bringing its volume to the required amount), you can proceed to the intake of porridge, and diversify the vegetable diet later.
If the child did not like the dish, for example, broccoli, do not give up and continue to offer this vegetable in a small amount - 1-2 spoons daily, you can not even once, but 2-3 times before meals, and after 7 - 10, and sometimes 15 days, the baby will get used to the new taste. This diversifies the diet, will help to form the right taste habits in the baby. nine0005
Spoon-feeding should be done with patience and care. Forced feeding is unacceptable!
In the diet of healthy children, porridge, as a rule, is introduced after vegetables (with the exception of healthy children who are breastfed, when complementary foods are introduced from 6 months). It is better to start with dairy-free gluten-free cereals - buckwheat, corn, rice. At the same time, it is important to use porridge for baby food of industrial production, which contains a complex of vitamins and minerals. In addition, it is already ready for use, you just need to dilute it with breast milk or the mixture that the baby receives. nine0005
Children suffering from food allergies are introduced complementary foods at 5-5.5 months. The rules for the introduction of products are the same as for healthy children, in all cases it is introduced slowly and begins with hypoallergenic products. Be sure to take into account individual tolerance. The difference is only in the correction of the diet, taking into account the identified allergens. From meat products, preference should first be given to mashed turkey and rabbit.
Diets for different age periods
Explain how you can make a diet, it is better to use a few examples that will help you navigate in compiling a menu specifically for your child.
From 5 months, the volume of one feeding is on average 200 ml.
If your baby started receiving complementary foods from 4-5 months, then at 6 months his diet should look like this:
| I feeding
|Breast milk or VHI*
| II feeding
| Dairy-free porridge**
Supplementation with breast milk or VHI*
| 150 g
| III feeding
| Vegetable puree
Meat puree Vegetable oil
Supplementing with breast milk or VHI*
| 150 g
5 - 30 g
| IV feeding
| Fruit puree
Breast milk or VHI*
| 60 g
| V feeding
|Breast milk or VHI*
* - infant formula
** - diluted with breast milk or VHI
* - infant formula Option 3. : ** - diluted with breast milk Up to 7 months, increase the volume of porridge and vegetable puree to 150 g and introduce fruit puree.
Breast milk or VHI* 200 ml II feeding
Meat puree Vegetable oil
5 - 30 g
Breast milk or VHI*
Breast milk or VHI* 200 ml
** - diluted with breast milk or VHI
Breast milk II feeding
Breast milk supplement
100 g III feeding
Meat puree Vegetable oil
Breast milk supplement
5 - 30 g
Breast milk V feeding
* - infant formula
** - diluted with breast milk
Up to 7 months, increase the volume of porridge and vegetable puree to 150 g and introduce fruit puree.