When is the best time to start baby on solid foods
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.
- 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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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
Teaching a child to solid food
The introduction of adult food is carried out gradually. It is necessary to accustom the child first to one product, then to others. Also, do not immediately take solid food - puree will be enough. If you are not in a hurry, if you are attentive enough to your child, there will be no problems. In this article, we will not talk about the introduction of complementary foods as such, but about the beginning of the use of solid foods. Chewing, swallowing are completely new skills for yesterday's baby. Someone masters them once or twice, other children need more time.
The structure of the maxillofacial system of the child is the main problem of all causes with chewing. The baby needs to make unusual efforts for him, carefully chew food.
The correct procedure for parents when introducing complementary foods:
• 4 months - liquid puree is introduced;
• 6 months - you can start to use puree with fibers or thick;
• 9 months - soft foods with chunks are fine.
After a year, you can give solid food - an apple, a pear, a cucumber, a piece of boiled chicken, etc. If 6-8 teeth grow earlier, these dates can be shifted. Some parents are guided by complementary feeding calendars, others are waiting for the child to ask for a certain product (usually from the parent's table).
Different types of purees
There are qualitatively different types of products among the presented range of canned food. Manufacturers take into account the child's ability to digest a particular product and the adaptation of the gastrointestinal tract for a particular type of food. The liquid puree is similar in consistency to pancake dough. If you dip a spoon into it, and then take it out, the puree will slowly drain. There is a thick puree - it retains its shape in a spoon, since there is not much liquid in the product. We are talking about the consistency of thick sour cream, but without dietary fiber. Fibrous purees have a similar consistency to thick purees, plus they often contain lumps and fibers.
Very thick puree may be diluted. For these purposes, breast milk, vegetable broth, or a mixture are usually used.
When the child is familiar with different types of purees, it will be possible to introduce solid food. They do this strictly according to the schedule - ordinary liquid purees are introduced after six months for naturalists, sometimes a little earlier for artificialists. Solid food will come in handy closer to a year old and later. Watch the baby's reaction - not only in terms of well-being, lack of allergies, but also in relation to personal tastes and preferences. Some children refuse certain foods completely - no need to force them.
To grind or not - see for yourself, but whole pieces are usually not given to children under one year old. There are babies who are ready to chew a piece of chicken breast for a long time, but there are not so many of them. If the food is smeared, use a nibbler - it will not have a banana on all the walls and furniture. Shredded food includes a product grated on a medium grater, but not turned into a thick or liquid puree. These include an apple from a blender, meat from a meat grinder, etc.
Soft foods like boiled vermicelli, boiled eggs, steamed rice porridge require chewing, but without much effort. Many parents begin after a year to give their child food from an adult table, this is a good option, the main thing is to cook diet meals. But the transition from formula and breast milk to adult food should be smooth.
Chewing difficulties: how not to choke
There is no universal recipe - you need to chew carefully, calmly, swallow one piece at a time. But this is all in theory - in practice, the parent sees how the child chewed and chewed a piece of food, began to swallow, and he got stuck. Insert your index finger into the mouth and, like a hook, take out food. You need to put your finger in from the side, from the corner of the mouth.
At 2 years of age, the child should be able to chew, swallow and use a spoon normally. Therefore, let your son or daughter eat on their own, despite the potential dirt that they will inevitably breed. Give up the idea of spoon-feeding a child before school and forcing them to eat food, rhymes and other traditional pastimes of our grandmothers.
Dad blog. We teach the child to solid food.
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 for the digestion of other foods - solids, not just puree and liquid.
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).