When do you start introducing food to a baby

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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Introducing solids: why, when, what & how

Solid foods: why babies need them

As babies get older, they need solid food to get enough nutrients for growth and development. These essential nutrients include iron, zinc and others.

For the first 6 months of life, babies use iron stored in their bodies from when they were in the womb. They also get some iron from breastmilk and/or infant formula. But babies’ iron stores go down as they grow. By around 6 months, babies need to start having solid food.

Introducing solids is also important for helping babies learn to eat, giving them experience of new tastes and textures from a range of foods. It develops their teeth and jaws, and it builds other skills that they’ll need later for language development.

Signs that it’s time to introduce solids

Signs your baby is ready for solids include when your baby:

  • has good head and neck control and can sit upright when supported
  • shows an interest in food – for example, they look at what’s on your plate
  • reaches out for your food
  • opens their mouth when you offer them food on a spoon.

Most babies start to show these signs by around 6 months, although this can vary.

It’s recommended not to introduce solids before 4 months.

If your baby is nearing 7 months of age and hasn’t started solids, you might like to get some advice from your child and family health nurse or GP.

The best times of day to introduce solids

When you’re first introducing solids, it’s good to offer solids when you and your baby are both happy and relaxed.

This is often after a feed of breastmilk or formula. Babies will still have room in their tummies for a taste of new foods after a feed of breastmilk or formula. But if they’re really hungry before a feed, they just want the breastmilk or formula that they know satisfies their hunger.

As time passes, you’ll learn when your baby is hungry or full, not interested or tired.

Signs of hunger include your baby:

  • getting excited when they see you getting their food ready
  • leaning towards you while they’re sitting in the highchair
  • opening their mouth as you’re about to feed them.

Signs your baby is no longer interested include:

  • turning their head away
  • losing interest or getting distracted
  • pushing the spoon away
  • clamping their mouth shut.

Your baby’s appetite can vary from day to day.

How much food to offer when introducing solids

When you’re first introducing solids, try offering 1-2 teaspoons of food once a day. At first, your baby might have only a small taste and probably won’t swallow much.

As your baby grows, you can increase the amount according to your baby’s appetite and signs.

By 12 months, your baby should be eating around 3 small meals a day, plus breastmilk or infant formula.

The right textures for first foods

When your baby is ready for solids, first foods might be smooth or finely mashed, depending on what baby likes. Over the next weeks and months, your baby can move on to roughly mashed or minced foods and then chopped foods. All foods should be very soft.

Your baby needs a variety of food textures. This helps your baby learn how to chew, and chewing helps with speech development and self-feeding. It also helps to prevent feeding difficulties as your baby develops. Babies can chew even before they get their first teeth.

By the time your baby is 12 months old, they should be eating the same foods that the rest of the family is eating. But you might still need to chop some foods into smaller pieces and cook vegetables until they’re soft.

To prevent choking, always supervise babies and young children while they’re eating solid food. Avoid nuts, take special care with pieces of meat and check fish for small bones, because these are choking hazards. And if your baby can move around, make sure baby is sitting down while they’re eating. If you sit with your baby while they’re eating, baby is less likely to move around.

Types of food to offer when introducing solids

All new foods are exciting for your baby.

The key is to include iron-rich foods of the right texture in your baby’s first foods. Iron-rich foods include:

  • iron-fortified infant cereal
  • minced meat, poultry and fish
  • cooked tofu and legumes
  • mashed, cooked egg (avoid raw or runny egg).

To these iron-rich foods, you can add other healthy foods of the right texture like:

  • vegetables – for example, cooked potato, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, broccoli or spinach
  • fruit – for example, banana, apple, pear, melon or avocado
  • grains – for example, oats, bread, rice and pasta
  • dairy foods – for example, yoghurt and full-fat cheese.

You can introduce any number of new foods at a time and in any order. When you offer your baby a variety of foods, they can try plenty of new tastes and get a range of nutrients.

Read our tips for introducing solid foods to learn how to get your baby interested in new foods and manage mealtime mess and play.

Breastmilk and infant formula while introducing solids

You should keep breastfeeding or using infant formula until at least 12 months.

When you start introducing solids, breastmilk or infant formula should still be the main source of your baby’s nutrition. Over the next few months, your baby will start having more solids and less milk or formula. The rate that this happens will vary.

By around 9 months, babies have generally developed enough chewing and swallowing skills to move from having milk before solids to having milk after solids.

Here are some signs that your baby is getting enough nutrition from both solids and breastmilk or formula during this time. Your baby:

  • has plenty of wet nappies – at least 6-8 wet cloth nappies or 5 very wet disposables in 24 hours
  • is alert and mostly happy after and between feeds
  • is gaining weight at about the right rate – your child and family health nurse will weigh your baby at your regular check-ups.

From 12 months onwards, solids should be the main source of your baby’s nutrition. Your baby doesn’t need infant formula after 12 months, but you can keep breastfeeding for as long as you and your baby like.

If solid food replaces breastmilk and/or infant formula too quickly, babies can miss out on important nutrition. If you have any concerns about your baby’s feeds or weight, talk to your midwife, child and family health nurse, lactation consultant or GP.

Introducing water

Once your baby has reached 6 months, you can start to offer baby cooled, boiled water in a cup at mealtimes and at other times during the day. This is so your baby can practise drinking from a cup, but baby still doesn’t really need fluids other than breastmilk or formula at this age.

Once your baby has reached 12 months, you can offer fresh tap water without boiling it.

Foods and drinks to avoid while introducing solids

There are some foods to avoid until your baby is a certain age:

  • Honey until 12 months – this is to avoid the risk of infant botulism.
  • Raw or runny eggs and foods containing raw eggs like home-made mayonnaise until 12 months – bacteria in raw eggs can be harmful to babies.
  • Reduced-fat dairy until 2 years – babies need full-fat dairy for growth.
  • Whole nuts and similar hard foods until 3 years – these are choking hazards.

There are some drinks to avoid until your baby is a certain age:

  • pasteurised full-fat cow’s milk as a main drink until 12 months
  • dairy alternatives like soy, goat’s, sheep’s, rice, oat, almond and coconut milk until 2 years, unless your GP or child and family health nurse has recommended these for a particular reason
  • unpasteurised milks at all ages
  • tea, coffee or sugar-sweetened drinks at all ages
  • fruit juice – this should be limited at all ages (whole fruits are better because they have fibre and help babies develop chewing and feeding skills).

Your baby doesn’t need added salt or sugar. Processed or packaged foods with high levels of fat, sugar and/or salt aren’t good for babies and children. These foods include cakes, biscuits, chips and fried foods.

Food allergy and introducing solids

Introducing allergenic foods early can reduce the risk of your child developing food allergy. Allergenic foods are foods that might cause allergies.

All babies, including babies with a high allergy risk, should try solid foods that might cause allergies from around 6 months of age. These foods include well-cooked egg, peanut butter and other nut butters, wheat (from wheat-based breads, cereals and pasta) and cow’s milk (but not as a main drink).

Once you’ve introduced an allergenic food, it’s a good idea to regularly include it in your baby’s diet.

It’s a good idea to get advice from your GP, child and family health nurse, dietitian, paediatrician or allergy and immunology specialist for the following reasons:

  • Your baby already has a food allergy.
  • Your baby has severe eczema.
  • Your family has a history of food allergy and you’re concerned about starting solids.
  • You’re worried about reactions to foods.

Feeding. Alternative Food Introduction

It's time to introduce your little one to something other than milk and don't know where to start? Let's talk about food supplements.

There are two types of complementary foods. Pediatric , which is more to the liking of physicians since the products are introduced strictly one at a time and it is easier to track allergies or adverse reactions. The purpose of pediatric complementary foods is to accustom the child to adult food and to gradually eliminate mother's milk from his diet. and p educational , which is considered more natural and gentle for the gastrointestinal tract, since the baby continues to receive most of the nutrients from milk, but at the same time, his body gradually learns to produce the necessary enzymes. Further, we will talk about him.

Feeding food has several significant advantages .

  • First of all, you don't need to prepare anything especially for the child. You do not have to wait until late at night until three cutlets are steamed in a double boiler or whip vegetables in a blender. And you do not need to buy cereals and mashed potatoes in jars, which will significantly save the family budget.
  • Secondly, pedophilic food means eating exclusively at mother's lap and from mother's plate. So if your little one refuses to eat something, you won't have to toss the mashed broccoli you've been fiddling with the night before in the bin.
  • Thirdly, there is no need to be nervous, in vain forcing the child to eat, because he will get everything he needs from your milk anyway.

When to start? Pediatricians advise introducing any complementary foods no earlier than six months. It is at this age that the child's body begins to secrete the enzymes necessary for the processing of adult food. Which implies the absence of colic, bloating and problems with the stool. At the same time, food interest awakens. And if the child is eagerly watching what you put into his mouth and is not distracted by anything, then it's time to give him a try of what he is so interested in.

Where to start? There are no uniform rules for the introduction of products. What lies on the mother’s plate, what will interest the baby, treat him to it. Start with microdoses: one grain of rice or a few meat fibers. The amount of food should fit between the pads of the thumb and forefinger of an adult. At one meal, a child can be given 5 types of foods and a maximum of 3 microdoses of each. Do not be alarmed if you notice that at first the body does not digest any of this. Over time, he will begin to produce the necessary enzymes in sufficient quantities and the process will improve. Of course, common sense must be present. And if it is customary in your family to eat fried potatoes, scrambled eggs with bacon and julienne, then you will have to give up all this for a while and switch to more healthy food. It is possible that in the future you yourself will begin to give preference to a healthy diet. If the family is against such radical measures - means that it is worth forgetting about pedigree food once and for all .

How to start? You put the child on your lap. Anything he asks you put on the edge of your plate. Let him take his hands and eat. If you eat soup - give him a spoon, let him dip it in liquid. At first, what will remain on it will be enough for him. In the future, the better he learns to use it, the more he will eat. He asks for a drink - put the same cup for him as you have with a sip of liquid. Tea, juice or compote dilute in advance every 5-10 times. Some believe that even coffee can be given in such proportions. But whether and why to give - it's up to you.

The rules of behavior at the table during the introduction of complementary foods do not differ much from the generally accepted ones. At first, the child eats with his hands, drops food on the floor, smears it on the table and mother's dress. Gradually, following your example, he learns to eat with a spoon and fork and drink from a cup. Of course, it will not be easy for the baby to sit through the entire dinner from beginning to end. And forcing him to do it is useless. Eat and let go. If he wants more, he will return. Over time, put him on a separate chair, put his personal plate and put on it a piece of food from yours.

To prevent your child from choking while eating, exclude at first everything that he can be distracted by: TV, tablet, books, etc. If this nevertheless happened and he coughed, do not interfere, let him cough, this is a natural reaction of the body that helps to remove the stuck piece from the esophagus or respiratory tract. If you can't do nothing, raise his hands up, which will help relax the muscles of the esophagus and the food will slip further. And best of all, right after reading this article, spend half an hour on video lesson by Dr. Komarovsky about emergency assistance in such situations.

If a child has a predisposition to allergies - the parents or the baby already had an allergy to some foods eaten by the mother - then try to exclude them at first. But still give little by little as the child grows and things change. Do not forget that potential allergens should be given in the morning.

And finally, let us remind you that complementary foods must go along with breastfeeding. After each meal, the baby drinks it in sufficient quantities with milk. From it he receives everything necessary for development and growth. And at an adult table in a relaxed atmosphere, he gradually gets used to ordinary food. Therefore, if you do not want to spend most of your precious free time preparing a separate menu for the baby, but at the same time the whole family agrees to eat steamed vegetables and donate smoked sausage in favor of boiled chicken breast, then this feeding method was created especially for you.

Yuliya Dyakova 01.09.2015

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When can a baby be introduced to solid food and how to introduce complementary foods? – PLED

If you do everything on time and slowly, then after two years you will not face the problem when your child eats exclusively macaroni and cheese (this is for example) and feeding him a balanced and varied diet seems like an impossible mission. The more flavors you introduce to a child between the ages of 6 months and a year, the more likely they will love fruits and vegetables as they grow older.

Family meal

If you want your child to eat properly and varied and quickly move to the common table, then the most important rule for parents is to eat like this yourself and eat with your child. After all, if your kid sees that your family is happy to eat soup for lunch, and for dinner everyone eats baked chicken with broccoli and a side salad, then he will definitely love it! We all love food, it is one of the most important elements of our lives, so it is so important to teach your child to love different foods, eat balanced meals and enjoy food.

For parents who are afraid to change their habitual feeding regimen and delay their acquaintance with solid foods (I mean up to 8 months), I will say one thing: milk (neither formula nor breast milk) will not provide all the nutrients necessary for growth and development, in including iron, and such a decision can lead to vitamin deficiencies in your child. In addition, you may experience poor eating behavior if you don't start introducing complementary foods between 6 and 7 months of age.

Listen to your baby and watch him carefully, especially from the age of five months. You'll know it's time to introduce solid foods when:

  • the child will become interested in what you eat
  • he will be able to sit on his own in a highchair
  • you see that he becomes hungry before the usual interval between feedings

So, at the age of 6 to 7 months, your baby moves to a new stage in his development and begins his gastronomic journey.

Where to start is the second question parents usually have. Porridge, fruits or vegetables? In general, this does not matter much, just avoid foods that increase the risk of allergies, such as nuts, honey, strawberries, etc. But I prefer vegetables like zucchini/zucchini or squash. Puree from them turns out a pleasant sweetish taste and a very delicate texture, which is usually liked by children. You must also remember that up to this point, the baby was only able to suck and thereby satisfy his hunger.

Therefore, at first, he may have a tongue-pulling reflex, which will gradually weaken, he will gradually need to learn to swallow, and then chew. For the first acquaintance, you will need a very small amount of puree, about two or three teaspoons. Never force a child to eat, it can ruin his relationship with food. Just cook delicious, very tasty, and soon you will see with what pleasure your baby crushes mashed broccoli, carrots and much more!

Start with lunch

Choose a vegetable for the first three days and make a simple puree. To do this, you can use a double boiler and a blender or a wonderful device - a double boiler and a blender for baby purees, two in one. You can simply boil the vegetable in a small amount of water, then make a gentle puree with a blender. If you do not have a double boiler, but really want to steam, then just boil some water in a saucepan, about 1/4, and when the water boils, put a sieve / colander on it and cover with a lid. Here's a steamer for you at no extra cost! Always save the water in which or over which the vegetables were cooked, we dilute the puree with it so that it is not too thick.

Here are examples of the simplest first vegetable purees:

  • marrow
  • pumpkin
  • carrots
  • avocado
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • potatoes
  • sweet potato
  • beets
  • celery (root)

Once your baby has overcome the ejection reflex and has learned to swallow solid food, you can introduce a new food every two to three days. I strongly advise not to stretch each new fruit or vegetable for a long time. Your task is to introduce the child to the maximum number of vegetables and fruits in the form of monopurée in the period from 6 to 8 months, in order to continue to make various combinations of them.

Introduce new fruits for afternoon tea in parallel with lunch from 7 months. Add porridge for breakfast, which can also be supplemented with fruit puree. Do not be afraid, just carefully observe the reaction of the baby, and if you see signs of an allergy, then return to already familiar products. During this time, your child's digestive system will fully adapt to the new type of food. And at the next stage, you can safely turn on your imagination and please your baby with a variety of flavors.

Fruit. Consider seasonality

If this moment of introduction of complementary foods occurred in the second half of summer, then your baby is very lucky. Because puree from peaches, plums, blueberries, apricots and other fruits is insanely tasty and very healthy.

Examples of fruit monopurées:

  • banana
  • apple
  • pear
  • plum
  • peach/nectarine
  • apricot
  • cherry
  • blueberry

If there are no seasonal fruits and it is winter, then the base for fruit purees will be apples, pears and bananas. They can be supplemented with dried fruits (dried apricots, prunes, cranberries, dates) or frozen berries/fruits.

Kashi. Separate conversation

To be honest, I used to cook instant baby cereals with milk formula for both of my daughters. I stuffed my eldest daughter with this disgrace for a little less than a year. The youngest was more fortunate, and from 8 months she began to eat normal oatmeal, which our whole family eats. It seemed to me something completely impossible to cook morning cereals myself, although I prepared the rest of the food for my children from the first spoon. Now I figured it out and want to share it with you!

Some parents worry if their child refuses to eat cereal porridge, which most of our pediatricians insist on. I have been repeatedly asked how to make a child eat porridge. Usually I advised doing it on a mixture, and it helped everyone. But! If you still want to cook porridge yourself, then it is very simple.

You will need a coffee grinder, and for cereals, stock up on buckwheat, oatmeal and good brown/brown rice. Porridge is a cereal, that is, a source of vegetable protein and complex carbohydrates that give the child a boost of energy for the whole day and a huge amount of essential vitamins. You just need to grind the grains, arrange them in convenient jars and cook them just like you would cook for yourself. Add a piece of butter when the porridge is ready, or a little milk (breast or formula). And that's it! It's very simple!

Meat. An essential part of your baby's daily diet

After your seven-month-old baby has learned to eat and is now happily munching on his vegetable and fruit purees, it's time to take the next step and introduce him to meat. This means that now recipes can be more interesting and refined. Most often, rabbit or turkey meat is chosen for the first time. But do not forget about red meat: beef and lamb are an excellent source of not only protein, but also iron, which your little gourmet needs.

5 more very healthy products that should be included in the child's menu at this stage of the gastronomic journey:

  • butter and olive oil
  • natural yogurt
  • avocado
  • red lentils
  • greens (dill, parsley, cilantro, spinach, basil, chard)

15 baby puree ideas for 7-8 month olds (depends entirely on what time you start introducing complementary foods and how fast you do it). All of them are prepared very simply, choose any method that you like. You can steam, boil in a small amount of water, bake and even stew. This method is not suitable for everything, but still some purees turn out to be especially tasty if cooked according to the stew principle. Don't be afraid to add herbs and dried herbs in the form of seasonings, they add richness to the taste.

  • pear plum
  • cherry and apricot (oven baked)
  • apricot with pumpkin
  • apple with beets
  • zucchini with avocado and spinach
  • cauliflower with apple
  • potatoes with cauliflower and green peas
  • rabbit with cauliflower, carrots, thyme and butter
  • chicken with carrots, rosemary and butter
  • turkey with potatoes, broccoli and olive oil
  • beef with sweet potato, carrot, celery root and green peas
  • beef with broccoli, apple, leek and spinach
  • chicken with carrots, shallots and apricots (dried apricots)
  • lamb with pumpkin and thyme
  • red lentils with leeks and spinach

So, to sum it up, if you want to raise a child who eats a balanced diet, sits at the table with the whole family during meals, enjoys what he eats, and appreciates family meals, then the most important first step ahead of you is to cook herself! Everything is in your hands, gain strength and patience, carefully observe your child.

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