When do babies switch from formula to baby 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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Formula Feeding FAQs: Starting Solids and Milk (for Parents)

Whether you plan to formula feed your baby from the start, want to supplement your breast milk with formula, or are switching from breast milk to formula, you probably have questions.

Here are answers to some common questions about formula feeding.

When Can My Baby Try Solid Foods?

Doctors recommend waiting until your baby is about 6 months old to start solid foods. Some babies may be ready for solids sooner than 6 months, but wait until your baby is at least 4 months old.

Babies who are ready to eat solids foods:

  • are interested in foods (for example, they may watch others eat, reach for food, and open their mouths when food is near)
  • hold up their heads well, and sit up with little or no help
  • don't push food of their mouth (which is a natural tongue reflex that disappears when babies are 4–6 months old)
  • usually weigh twice their birth weight, or close to it

Talk to your doctor about the right time to start solid foods.

How Do I Introduce Solid Foods?

When the time is right, 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 to a baby's bottle unless your doctor recommends it.

When your baby gets the hang of eating the first food, introduce other foods from all food groups, such as puréed meats, fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and yogurt. Wait a few days between introducing new foods to make sure your baby doesn't have an allergic reaction.

You can include foods that are more likely to cause allergies — such as peanuts, eggs, cow’s milk, seafood, nuts, wheat, and soy — among the foods you introduce to your infant. Waiting to start these foods does not prevent food allergies.

Talk to your doctor before giving foods that contain peanuts if your baby has severe eczema or an egg allergy, as these conditions make an allergy to peanuts more likely. Eating peanut-containing foods early on may lower a child’s chances of developing a peanut allergy. But your doctor will need to decide if you can give peanuts to your baby, and the safest way to do it. Usually, this requires allergy tests.

Should We Avoid Some Foods?

Yes, don’t give your baby:

  • foods with added sugars or 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 instead of breast milk or formula before 12 months. It’s OK to offer pasteurized yogurt and cheese.
  • foods that may cause choking, such as hot dogs, raw carrots, grapes, popcorn, and nuts

Always supervise your child when eating. Make sure your child is sitting up in high chair or other safe place.

When Can My Baby Have Cow's Milk?

Before their first birthday, babies still need the nutrients in breast milk or formula. But after that, they’re ready to switch to cow's milk.

Most kids under age 2 should drink whole milk. If a toddler is overweight or there is a family history of obesity, high cholesterol, or heart problems, your doctor might recommend switching to reduced fat (2%) milk.

If your child can’t drink cow’s milk, choose an unsweetened soy beverage fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Other milk alternatives, like almond, oat, rice, or coconut milk, have less protein and may not be fortified.

How Do We Switch to Cow’s Milk?

You can switch your baby from formula to whole milk by replace bottles of formula with bottles — or sippy cups — of milk. By 1 year old, your baby should be eating a variety of solid foods and drinking about 16 to 24 ounces (480–720 milliliters) of milk per day.

When Can I Start Giving My Baby Water and Other Drinks?

In their first 6 months, healthy babies drinking enough formula usually don't need extra water. Once your baby is eating solid foods, you can offer a small amount of water between feedings, up to 4–8 ounces a day. 

Water that has fluoride helps prevent tooth decay. If your water does not have fluoride, talk to your doctor or dentist about fluoride drops.

Do not give juice to babies younger than 12 months. After your child’s first birthday, limit 100% fruit juice to no more than 4 ounces a day. Always serve juice in a cup, not in a bottle. Don’t give your child sugar-sweetened beverages, including soda, juice drinks, sports drinks, and flavored milks.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD

Date reviewed: November 2021

How to introduce new formula to a baby | Changing from one mixture to another: scheme

09/06/2017 Rassadina Zinaida Vladimirovna


How do I switch my baby to another formula?

The diet and diet of a formula-fed baby require special attention and constancy.

The diet and diet of a formula-fed baby require special attention and constancy. However, quite often there are situations when transferring a child to another mixture becomes a necessity. In this article, we will tell you how to make the transition to a new diet comfortable and safe for your crumbs. nine0003

Why shouldn't the mixture be changed frequently?

The reasons for the transfer of an artificial child from one mixture to another must be strictly argued. Usually, the pediatrician gives recommendations on changing the diet if the child's health condition requires it. Frequent and unreasonable transitions to a new mixture is a real stress for the child's body, such jumps can provoke digestive problems in the baby.

Reasons for switching a baby to new formula

Situations that require replacement of infant formula with another one may be the following:

  • symptoms of allergy to the first mixture;
  • the need to introduce a therapeutic mixture, in connection with the detection of any disease in a child;
  • the need to replace the therapeutic mixture with an adapted one in the event that the baby has eliminated the disease or condition in which it was prescribed;
  • milk protein intolerance or lactase deficiency; nine0026
  • refusal of the child from the usual mixture, insufficient weight gain;
  • the need to transition to a new stage of nutrition in connection with reaching a certain age (6, 12 months).

Switching to a new diet: how long does it take?

Transferring a baby from one mixture to another takes up to two weeks. During this time, the following changes are possible in the child's condition:

  • change in stool - such a reaction is considered temporary and is not a reason for refusing to transfer; nine0026
  • change in the child's appetite;
  • changes in the mood of the crumbs.

In order to make sure that the new food suits your child, at least a month should pass. Carefully monitor the baby's reaction: appetite, activity, sleep, digestion, skin condition. If, after feeding with a new mixture, the child becomes restless, sleep worsens, rashes or other allergic reactions appear on the skin, immediately consult a pediatrician for advice. nine0003

What is the total daily amount of formula and the amount of one serving for a IV baby?

The first thing they are guided by when determining the sufficiency and quality of nutrition of an artificial baby is the monthly indicators of increased growth and weight gain. According to current standards, for the first 2 months of life, a child should consume a volume equal to 1/5 of his weight per day.

Example: baby weight 3 kg - 600 ml (3000/5=600) - the total amount of formula per day. nine0003

The norm of formula for children of the first year of life:

  • from 2 to 4 months is 1/6 of body weight,
  • 4 to 6 - 1/7,
  • after 6 months -1/8-1/9.

The size of 1 serving is determined according to the following principle: divide the total amount of food by the frequency of feeding. It is possible that in one of the feedings the child refuses to eat up the prescribed norm, and the next time he drinks a little more than usual. Such deviations in one direction or another are quite acceptable. nine0003

Healthy transition rules

Experts recommend a phased transition to a new diet within one week, the frequency of feeding is 7 times:
1 day: at the first feeding - only the old mixture, the second feeding - a new one, the rest of the feedings - the old mixture. Monitor the child's condition, there should be no anxiety and sleep disturbances;
Day 2: new formula - second and fourth feedings;
Day 3: new formula - second, fourth and sixth feedings; nine0012 Day 4: new formula - first, second, fourth and sixth feedings;
Day 5: new formula - first, second, third, fourth and sixth feedings;
Day 6: new formula - every feeding except the fifth;
Day 7: every feeding - new formula.

Such a smooth transition will help the child's body easily adapt to a new diet, which will prevent digestive problems or other negative consequences for the baby's health. nine0003

Author: Rassadina Zinaida Vladimirovna Pediatrician, experience - 14 years

Up to what age can a child be fed formula milk?

- If breastfeeding is not possible, then formula is the best option for feeding your baby. Often mothers are worried that the mixture is not useful enough, it can be harmful or dangerous. Of course, breast milk is the best food for a baby, but if it is not possible, then there is nothing wrong with the mixture, you should not worry. nine0003

To begin with, I would like to say that there is no point in finishing formula feeding as soon as possible. There is no such clear boundary after which it is impossible to feed the baby with a mixture. Usually, the transition from the mixture occurs smoothly, each baby is different. The minimum age up to which it is desirable to feed with an adapted milk formula is 1 year, and then we look at the child.

— How should complementary foods be combined with formula feeding? For example, if a baby at seven months refuses the formula and at the same time eats complementary foods? Is this normal or should I try to keep formula feeding? nine0022

- I can't say this is normal. If you take a seven-month-old baby, then no matter what time they begin to introduce complementary foods, by this age he still receives a fairly limited set of products. Therefore, it is impossible to fill all the needs of the child's body with the help of complementary foods. Complementary foods are an intermediate step in the transition to the "adult" table, and the baby still has to receive a huge amount of nutrients from breast milk or from formula. Therefore, I do not recommend removing formula from the child's diet at such an early age. nine0003

— Polina Alexandrovna, when can you switch from formula to kefir and yogurt and how will this affect the child's digestion?

- By and large, this is not a transition. When we introduce fermented milk products - yogurt or kefir - into complementary foods, the baby usually still receives enough nutrition in the form of a mixture (2-3 feedings). And replacing them with yogurt or kefir would be completely wrong. Despite the fact that these are fermented milk products and some of the proteins in them have already been broken down by the bacteria that are contained there, the protein load remains quite large. And at this age (they are introduced at about 8 months), it would be wrong to consider a fermented milk product several times a day as a complete source of nutrition. It is better to introduce dairy products into the child's diet as one of the additional types of complementary foods along with the milk mixture, which remains in the baby's diet for up to a year. And it is advisable to start not with kefir, but with yogurt - its acidity and composition will be more gentle for a small child. Kefir is better to enter by 9-10 months.

- Let's move on to the older kids. Why is it better for children from one year to use a mixture of the third formula, and not whole cow or goat milk?

  1. The protein composition of cow's and goat's milk differs significantly from that of breast milk and adapted formulas based on cow's or goat's milk.

    When a child consumes whole milk, there is a risk of getting an excess of proteins and microelements, which is not a very good factor - the child's body begins to intensively remove excess substances. A very large load falls on the kidneys, there is a violation of their function. Microelements are also excreted, which are few, but the child still needs them. nine0003

  2. Whole cow's and goat's milk is rich in some elements and proteins, but contains quite little in others.

    For example, cow's milk is not very rich in iron and goat's milk is not very rich in folic acid. There is an imbalance - the child receives an excess of some substances and at the same time does not receive others. Therefore, adapted milk mixtures are more relevant.

  3. When buying whole cow's or goat's milk, you can't always be sure of the quality of the product. nine0135

    Even when buying on the market in "verified places", no one will give you a guarantee that this milk is really good. No one will talk about how goats and cows are kept, how milk was stored. But when you buy formula milk, you can be sure of its quality - baby food is produced under very strict control.

  4. Proper use of the mixture reduces the risk of bacterial growth.

    The undoubted convenience of mixtures is that they are usually sold in dry form and diluted immediately before use. Due to this, the risk of reproduction in the product of pathogenic bacteria, which lead to various problems of the baby's gastrointestinal tract, is reduced. nine0003

— When can a switch to pure cow's or goat's milk be recommended? It is believed that up to 3 years the child's digestive system does not tolerate them well.

- Yes, indeed, there is such an opinion. I completely agree with him and do not recommend transferring babies under three years old to adult goat or cow milk for the reasons indicated above. It must be understood that if proteins undigested by the baby are retained in the gastrointestinal tract, they remain in the intestinal lumen. And if these are proteins of the casein fraction, they can negatively affect it - irritate the intestinal walls and lead to discomfort. And large molecules that are not crushed by enzymes, but enter the bloodstream, can cause allergic reactions. nine0003

It is better not to risk and use those products that are recommended for babies under three years old, namely, special milk formulas. They are adapted to this age, fortified and contain the optimal ratio of proteins and microelements so that the baby gets what he needs, and at the same time does not eat anything extra.

- Is it true that “normal milk is not found now” and the mixture will be healthier for the baby?

— Yes, indeed, when we buy whole milk, it is not always possible to be sure that the milk is produced as they say. Infant formulas are produced under strict control, according to certain technologies. Therefore, of course, there is much more confidence in such products. nine0003

— Polina Aleksandrovna, there is a myth that if you feed a child with milk formula for a long time, he will not learn to chew properly. Is this true?

— There is some truth in this. If we feed a child only formula and nothing else, then, of course, he will not learn to chew, because we do not offer him the kind of food that can be chewed. The baby will not learn to chew on its own without your help.

While formula feeding, we start the introduction of complementary foods with a homogeneous puree without pieces. There is nothing to chew there, but when the baby gets used to it, we gradually introduce food with small and soft pieces, then the pieces become larger and harder. And it is thanks to this that the child learns to chew. If, along with this food, the baby receives a milk formula, then, of course, he will not forget how to chew from what he eats from a bottle. Therefore, it is fundamentally important here not how long you feed the formula, but whether you offer the child pieces that he can learn to chew. nine0003

Read also
  • about what foods to start feeding your baby with and how to combine complementary foods and artificial feeding

— If a child of more than two years old eats formula with pleasure, is it necessary to worry and limit it? Or will he eventually give up on her?

- There is definitely no need to worry, there is nothing wrong with that. If a child receives a mixture adapted to his age (for two years this is the third stage), then, of course, this should not bother you. But you need to regulate the consumption of the mixture. nine0003

It is important to be aware that the mixture, although liquid, is a source of a huge amount of nutrients, it has a fairly high calorie content. So this is not a drink that can be consumed up to five times a day. Such a mixture can be equated with a meal and, accordingly, left or introduced into the child's diet adequately to his needs and age norms. A two-year-old child can be given formula for an afternoon snack instead of a dairy product. In this case, this is adequate nutrition adapted to the age of the baby, and he will only benefit from it. There will be harm if this product is abused. nine0003

— How many times a day should the child be fed the 3rd formula?

— Everything depends not only on the age of the child, but also on how much complementary foods he receives.

  • The child receives a sufficiently large amount of complementary foods.

    He receives the main part of his food during the day from complementary foods, there is one milk feeding at night. In this case, we leave the mixture for night feeding.

  • The child is accustomed to getting formula for the afternoon snack. nine0135

    It will not be a problem at all if he receives the mixture both day and night.

Always start from the needs of the child. For example, if the baby is one year old and he still has two or three milk feedings, then you do not need to strive to quickly get away from the mixture and reduce such feedings to a minimum. Do this when the child is comfortable. That is, there is no such thing that the mixture can be given only at night or only during the day.

— When does it come time to completely transfer the child to the "adult" table? How can a mother understand that the child’s body no longer needs the mixture and that he receives all the nutrients from other foods? nine0022

— You need to pay attention to a few things:

  • consult a pediatrician who can take into account the characteristics of the child and focus on his opinion;
  • it would be nice to count calories, proteins, fats and carbohydrates, although it is unlikely that mom will do this;
  • analyze how the baby eats, how much food and nutrients he receives with complementary foods.

Based on this, we look at when to move away from milk formula. But if a 2.5-year-old child uses formula once a day and this is not another extra meal, but the same afternoon snack with fruit or cookies, then everything is quite adequate. nine0003

– Polina Alexandrovna, and at the end of the conversation: what is the use of MAMAKO ® Premium mixtures for children and up to what age should they be given?

  • Range 0 to 3 years

    – First of all, I would like to note that MAMAKO ® has a specially adapted formula for each age. For babies in the first six months of life - 1, from six months to a year - 2, and for babies older than 1 year - adapted milk drinks marked 3. This, of course, is a big plus, because babies get what they need at each specific age. nine0003

  • Saturation of mixtures with useful components

    - Secondly, the rich composition of the mixtures is a big plus. Every age child has different needs. Dry infant formulas MAMAKO ® contain both a complex that supports the development of the nervous system, a complex that protects the eyes, and pre- and probiotics that promote comfortable digestion. Thanks to this enrichment, of course, this mixture is quite useful for the baby. nine0003

  • Adequate protein composition

    - Thirdly, the protein composition of the mixtures is adapted to the specific age of the baby, which means there is no protein load on the kidneys.

  • Goat milk benefits

    - If we are talking about the basis of the mixture MAMAKO ® Premium - goat's milk, then, of course, it is more preferable for feeding babies than cow's milk. Goat milk proteins have a composition closer to breast milk proteins, and it is easier for a child to digest them than cow milk proteins. nine0003

There is no clear boundary when you need to remove the mixture from the child's diet.

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