When did you start feeding your baby solids

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.

Top of Page

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

When to introduce pieces in complementary foods?

The article was written with the help of nutritionist Victoria Vishnyakova.

You need to take the transition from puree to chunks seriously, as this step is very important.

Such food is called in English-speaking countries “finger foods” translated into Russian as “finger food”. Toddlers take pieces with their fingers, bring them to their mouths, knead them with their gums and swallow.

At the same time, several systems are included in the work at once:

  • The brain needs to coordinate the actions of the hands, mouth and jaw
  • Mouth, tongue, jaw muscles are being trained
  • Gastrointestinal tract adapts to digest food other than solids, not just purees and liquids.

You should know that, as in other stages of the development of the baby, the pieces also need to be introduced into the “window of opportunity” - this is the period during which skills are mastered easily and naturally. In cases where such a moment was missed, much more effort has to be applied.

Based on modern recommendations, lumpy food should be offered from about six months, that is, almost immediately with the start of complementary foods. The deadline is about 9-10 months. – later the “window” will be closed.

You can start complementary foods not with mashed potatoes, but knead boiled vegetables with a fork, after a while you will not need to do this too carefully. Thus, the consistent addition of lumpy food to the child's diet will begin.

When you start complementary foods with mashed potatoes, then after a while offer pieces first of all, and if suddenly the baby gets tired, give mashed potatoes.

You can not mix puree with pieces! Toddlers do not expect that a solid object may be caught in their usual food - they will begin to "suck" it and may choke. As a result, there is a possibility that there will be a fear of food and even a temporary refusal of complementary foods.

Lumpy food should be soft so that children can knead it with their fingers. If the piece is hard, then it can be dangerous, since the child will not be able to chew it, but it is easy to choke on it.

There is no need to be afraid to give food in the form of pieces with the start of complementary foods. Offer your food by simply kneading it with a fork - this is normal, but only if your diet does not contain foods that are undesirable or dangerous for the baby (we wrote about this in another article).

Children can keep a piece in their mouth for a long time, and then spit it out - it's okay. Thus, they acquire many different skills, not forgetting to satisfy their hunger. Do not worry, put a plate, take your time - the child can crush, smear, spit, and eat what is needed.

Most importantly, do not leave children alone during this process, because there is a risk of choking. At a time when the baby smears food on his hands and plate, you will have time to eat your food warm.

Have a good appetite everyone!

More articles

Meningococcus: a dangerous bacterium

Universal first aid kit

8 rules for a healthy back

Wash or dry?See all articles

Glinskikh Elena

Published: 01/15/2023

Reading time:


What are the difficulties

When a small child appears in a family, parents face a difficult task: not just to raise and educate, but also to instill in the baby all the necessary skills. For example, young parents are often concerned about the question of how to teach a child to chew. We have collected tips for you from well-known Russian and foreign pediatricians who will help you find the best solution.

For adults, the process of chewing food seems to be something completely natural. But the child has only a sucking reflex, and even liquid puree becomes an unusual and unfamiliar food for him. In addition, other reflex reactions are characteristic of the same period, due to which solid pieces of food that have fallen into the mouth are rejected. They weaken by 4 months, but it is not necessary to wean a child at this age: mother's milk "adjusts" to the needs of the baby, its composition changes over time.

When to introduce the first complementary foods

Exactly at this time - in the period from 4-6 months. Depending on various factors, it can be a monocomponent vegetable puree or dairy-free porridge from a single cereal. It is worth considering the weight, height, state of the digestive system and other features of the child's health.

How to tell if your baby is ready for solid foods

Your baby will usually let you know that he is interested in updating his diet. This can be seen from his behavior:

  • stops sucking food from a spoon, removing it with lips
  • Trying to chew
  • shows interest in the "adult" food
  • Extensive objects
  • This usually happens no earlier than 6-8 months - that's when you can start giving the baby cereals and other foods with small dense particles.

    How to choose a diet for young children

    • At 6-7 months, tiny particles up to 0.3 mm are acceptable. Shredded vegetables are ideal
    • At 8-9 months, food with particles up to 1.5 mm can be added to the diet. These can be cereal flakes as part of cereals, tiny pieces of well-cooked vegetables
    • At 9-12 months, the child can already cope with chewing food with pieces up to 3 mm.
    • At 1 year of age and beyond, teach the child to chew solid food independently

      Common mistakes

      Young parents may inadvertently make mistakes. This is normal and should not cause panic: the first child is always difficult. If the baby refuses solid food, there are several reasons.

      Solids too large . The child has a protective reflex, due to which he often spits out food. And if the piece is very large, the baby may begin to vomit.

      Complementary foods were introduced very late . Some "specialists" and "experienced relatives" convince young mothers that they need to breastfeed their baby for up to a year, without giving him any other food. The kid gets used to such food, and the chewing reflex is not formed in him. You should not be afraid, it is difficult, but you can fix it.

      The child does not like the taste . Yes, he is already an independent person who has his own preferences. So the baby can easily eat broccoli and refuse a baked pear. Or vice versa. You should not forcefully stuff the child with what he does not like, or force him to finish eating the entire portion.

      Negative associations . Some psychologists believe that the refusal to eat from a spoon may be due to the fact that the child associates food with medicine (manifested in cases where the baby was given tasteless potions).

      Too many new products . Don't try to include a wide variety of foods in your diet. As Ellyn Satter writes in Feeding and Feeding Your Child with Love and Common Sense, it's best to add "scary and unfamiliar" foods to what your child already loves, and in very small portions.

      The child is fed like an adult . Larisa Surkova writes in the book “How cool it is with a child from 1 to 3 years old: a generator of useful tips”, you should not deny your baby tactile sensations. If he wants to crush food, sniff, smear on the table - let him do it. In the end, the table can be covered with oilcloth (and the floor, by the way, too).

      No Foods

      To avoid food allergies and digestive problems, never give a child under four years of age:

      • lollipops, caramel, toffee
      • nuts and any seeds
      • hard pieces of meat
      • whole grapes
      • large pieces of hard fruits and vegetables

      a one-year-old baby cannot chew food and constantly chokes on small pieces.

      This means that the chewing reflex is not fully formed, and parents will have to act very delicately:

      • Prepare thick creamy soups and purees for the child, but leave a few tiny, boiled pieces of vegetables when blending with a blender
      • Later, the vegetables can be chopped with a fork, the pieces will become larger, but not hard enough for the child to choke
      • The best effect will help to achieve products that taste like the child. These can be baked apples and pears, bananas, children's cookies
      • 0012

      If, during the learning process, the child continues to choke and is unable to swallow solid food, this is an occasion to consult a doctor who will find the cause of the problem.

      Game process

      The child needs to be interested. A game plot for eating is an absolute norm. In the process, the baby can be told an interesting story in which he will be involved. The well-known “airplane” flying to the “hangar” is a real way to feed a child without nerves and tantrums.

      Learn more