When to put baby on solid 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.
- 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
5 easy ways to transfer a child to an adult table: from mashed potatoes to pieces
How to transfer a child to an adult table, what are the rules for a healthy diet for a child after a year and how to teach a baby to chew: read about this and much more in our material.
Most often, by the age when grown-up babies have already learned to sit on their own, they show interest in the parent's table. Sometimes, with great zeal, they strive to try everything that is on the plate of their parents or brothers and sisters. And if they managed to get a trophy in the form of adult food, they not only try it “by the tooth”, but they can also smear it on the table or throw it on the floor.
And now there comes a moment when every parent dreamily thinks that soon there will be no need to prepare a “special menu” for the youngest member of the family and everyone will finally eat the same thing. But when does this time come?
When is the right time?
Experts agree that there are no clear boundaries, because every baby develops at its own pace. Coordinating the work of all the muscles of the oral cavity and chewing hard pieces can be still difficult for babies. At the first stage of acquaintance with complementary foods, it is better to use homogenized purees, then - products with a puree-like consistency, and later - with pieces. Often at 8-9months, children try to gnaw everything that gets into their mouths, and they usually already have several teeth, and all this suggests that the structure of food can be complicated. Let's see how.
5 easy ways to transition your child to adult meals
1. Take it slow and encourage interest
Starting with mashed potatoes, slowly but steadily add thicker foods to your diet. At the age of 6 months (it all depends on the pace of development of your baby and his physiological characteristics, for example, on the number of teeth), you can safely treat children to special children's cookies.
It will also be useful to observe the food interest of the baby - to notice that he himself is drawn to some adult food.
Be sure to tell us about the taste, texture, color of the product.Photo: shutterstock / Katrina Era
2. Create a special atmosphere at the table
It is very important for kids to follow the routine - eat at the same time, do it in your own place and preferably with your children's appliances from your dishes, and, of course, in your chair. This disciplines, allows the gastrointestinal tract to work by the hour.
Baby chairs are ideal for feeding your baby. First of all, it is safe, but do not forget that the child must always be fastened. Show by your own example how to use cutlery, because kids repeat everything after adults.
Make family breakfasts, lunches or dinners (and conversations) a special time. Time at the table is the time of communication, let it be a good tradition and remain in the memory of the child.
3. Choose special products to transition to an adult table
During the transition to adult food, unfamiliar food may seem tasteless, the child may think that you are giving him something inedible. One of the best transition options would be a special combined puree, for example, the FrutoNyanya line with pieces of meat and vegetables, which will introduce the baby to a new consistency and help stimulate chewing skills due to the pieces of vegetables and crushed grains contained there. In addition, each jar of this line contains 12% of the physiological needs of the baby (aged 9months) in iron.Photo: Shutterstock / Elena Stepanova
4. Cook meals that are suitable for the whole family
Cooking for the whole family is a great idea. The main rule: your diet should be suitable for the child, which means a minimum of salt and spices. Introduce baby vegetable "soups", boiled or steamed vegetables, lightly crushed with a blender or mashed with a fork, into the child's diet. You can give your child to try different foods with pieces. And if he doesn't like it, offer again in a couple of weeks. It is important here not to miss the moment, but also not to rush: if you start introducing thicker and solid foods into your baby’s diet too early, this can lead to eating disorders and other problems.
5. Avoid watching cartoons and using gadgets while eating
It is important to be patient and not distract your child with cartoons and gadgets. So he will be able to feel the taste of food and learn to enjoy the process of eating - both in the present and in the future. Of course, turning on the cartoon and quickly feeding the child is very convenient, but when the baby is fascinated by what is happening on the screen, his brain analyzes only the cartoon and does not think about the taste of food and satiety at all.
What happens if you miss the moment?
More and more mothers and fathers in parent groups on the Internet complain that their seemingly healthy child refuses to chew solid food. The reasons may be different - for example, "laziness" (kids do not want to chew, as at first this is not an easy process).
Delaying the introduction of more adult foods and foods with chunks too long can lead to a range of problems, from eating disorders to functional and even organic disorders. And, of course, the work of the gastrointestinal tract suffers.
The advice in the articles is advisory in nature and cannot replace a visit to your doctor.
Photo: Shutterstock/Biglike Images
from puree to pieces: when to translate the baby to solid food - Parents.ru
Up to 4-6 months the baby can only eat liquid homogeneous food. If a denser lump of food gets into the mouth, the gag reflex will work.
From 4 to 6 months the baby starts chewing. Parents may notice that the baby no longer sucks the toy that has fallen into the mouth, but tries to chew. Gradually, the work of the masticatory muscles is consistent with the swallowing reflex, the baby shows interest in the food that he sees on the table with his parents. At this age, the protective reflex of pushing food thicker than breast milk with the tongue also fades away. This is a signal that the time has come to introduce the child to liquid homogenized (homogeneous) mashed potatoes and cereals, which resemble thick sour cream in consistency.
From 6 to 9 months, when many children already have their first teeth, it is necessary to switch to a thicker food - puree (grind particle size 1. 5 mm). But the dishes should still be without lumps. If they are caught, the baby will push them out of the mouth.
After 9 months the baby tries to chew everything that gets into his mouth. This suggests that it is time to complicate the structure of food and switch to coarsely ground purees (particle size 3 mm). Apples can already be grated on a coarse grater or just finely chopped. To encourage chewing, also offer the crumbs a piece of bread or baby biscuits.
After 12 months, when there are already 8 teeth in the mouth, boiled vegetables can be kneaded with a fork. As the chewing reflex continues to develop, it's time to teach your child to bite off food in small pieces. For this, the crumbs are given children's meatballs, fruit slices, a piece of bread, simple bagels.
Terms of acquaintance of the crumbs with more dense food, of course, are approximate. But if you are too late or hurry with its introduction, problems may arise.
Haste can cause regurgitation, vomiting, and fear of eating food. If you decide to postpone a meeting with a thicker or solid food for a long time, then there may be a lag in the development of the digestive system and the chewing apparatus. It will be more difficult for a child to learn to bite and chew food. For this reason, it is necessary to carefully study the labels on baby food packages. Regardless of the recommendations of the manufacturer, remember that acquaintance with complementary foods cannot occur before 4-5 months.
- Sam Edwards/Getty Images/OJO Images RF
When to start?
This should be determined by the doctor observing the baby's health, because each child has his own individual developmental characteristics and may not fit into the general scheme.
More useful materials about children's nutrition and development - in our channel on Yandex.