When What And How To Introduce Solid Foods
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.
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 two years
- whole nuts and similar hard foods until three years these are choking hazards.
There are some drinks to avoid until your baby is a certain age:
- pasteurised full-fat cows milk as a main drink until 12 months
- soy milk, goats milk and sheeps milk until two years
- rice, oat, almond or coconut milk until two years old, unless youve consulted with your GP or child and family health nurse
- unpasteurised milk of all types, tea, coffee or sugar-sweetened drinks at all ages
- fruit juice this should be limited at all ages .
Your baby doesnt need added salt or sugar. Processed or packaged foods with high levels of fat, sugar and/or salt arent good for babies and children. These foods include cakes, biscuits, chips and fried foods.
Can You Mix Baby Led Weaning And Purees
Absolutely! I think its a great idea to mix the two methods simply because it gives you many more options for foods and allows the baby to experience more textures. I recommend allowing babies to feed themselves preloaded spoonsso you put the puree on a spoon, then hand it to them to actually put the spoon into their mouthso they still have control over what goes into their mouths.
TIP: Feeding some purees is also helpful if youll be sending food with a baby to daycare since the care provider may not have experience with blw.
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Tips For Starting Your Baby On Solid Foods
Go with the feeding method that feels right to you
Know that there are no studies showing that one feeding method is better than another, so go with the one that feels right for you and your family.
Whether you choose the traditional spoon-fed purees, or the baby led weaning approach, how your baby reacts to it and how comfortable you are is the best indicator that it is working or not! And know that you can switch techniques at any point.
For additional support, speak with your pediatrician about your decision.
At first, solid foods are not to replace breastmilk or formula
As you get started on this journey, know that introduction of solid food is complementary to breastmilk and/or formula feeding. Breastmilk or formula should remain a primary source of nutrients and calories up through most of the first year.18, 19
In the beginning, think of eating as a way for your baby to explore foods, tastes, and textures, rather than a way for them to get all their nutrients. This will allow you and your baby to set aside frustration and have more fun with the process.
No added salt or sugar
As with any feeding strategy, avoiding foods with added salt and sugar is key to your infants health as well as the foundation to building healthy taste preferences.20
Read more: Minimizing Added Sugar in your Childs Diet
Listen to your babys hunger and fullness cues
Feed your baby iron-containing foods
When Can My Baby Have Water To Drink
Once your baby has reached 6 months, they’re old enough to be offered water to drink. Cooled, boiled water can be offered in a sippy cup at mealtimes and in-between.
As long as a breastfed or bottle-fed baby is offered plenty of milk, they don’t need extra water to drink. It’s the practice of drinking from a cup which is useful.
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Which Foods Should I Avoid
Kids are at higher risk of developing food allergies if any close family members have allergies, food allergies, or allergy-related conditions, like eczema or asthma. Talk to your doctor about any family history of food allergies.
In some kids, their risk for an allergy to peanuts may be related to when they start eating peanut products. Talk to your doctor about how and when to introduce these foods to your child.
Possible signs of food allergy or allergic reactions include:
For more severe allergic reactions, like hives or breathing difficulty, get medical attention right away. If your child has any type of reaction to a food, don’t offer that food again until you talk with your doctor.
Also, do not give honey until after a baby’s first birthday. It can contain spores that are harmless to adults, but can cause botulism in babies. And don’t give regular cow’s milk until your baby is older than 12 months. It doesn’t have the nutrition that infants need.
To 24 Months Old Feeding Schedule
Expressed breast/human milk or cows milk: 16 fluid ounces maximum
Infant formula: None, unless otherwise recommended by a childs medical provider
Solids: 3 meals + 2 snacks
If your toddler is still bottle-feeding at this age or has limited interest in solids, consult your pediatrician or health care professional.
Note: At this age, breast/human milk is not an adequate source of calcium and vitamin D. Although there are many other health benefits to extended breastfeeding, its important to offer various foods that provide both calcium and vitamin D. 8
A word on cows milk: Never put cows milk in a bottle. At this age, serve cows milk in an open or straw cup, but limit consumption of cows milk to 16 ounces per day or less, if the child is consuming other sources of dairy such as yogurt or cheese. One way to keep within this limit: remind yourself that milk is a drink that accompanies a meal and not a meal itself. Only serve milk in a cup with meals. While you dont have to offer cows milk, it does bring a good amount of protein, fat, calcium, and vitamin D to the table. If youd like to forgo cows milk and dairy entirely, make sure to offer other sources of calcium and vitamin D. See our Nutrient Cheat Sheet for a list of foods by nutrient.
For more on milk and milk alternatives, see our Milk FAQs.
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Foods To Avoid Serving While Doing Blw
You want any foods you offer to a baby while doing baby led weaning to be soft enough to squish between your fingers and safe for them to eat and digest. Plan to avoid:
- Anything hard, sticky, or crunchy
- Added salt
- Cows milk
- Added sugar
- Super slippery foods that would be hard for baby to hold
TIP: Always sit with your baby and watch them try to eat. They are your best guide for making adjustments to the foods you serve.
What Are The Signs Of A Food Allergy In Babies To Look Out For
While food allergies are relatively common in babies , they do need to be taken seriously. Babies’ reactions to food can range from gassiness, diarrhea or mucus in the stool to vomiting and rashes . Other symptoms include a runny nose, watery eyes, wheezing that doesn’t seem to be due to a cold and unusual wakefulness or crankiness, day or night.
If you think your baby may be allergic to something you’ve fed her, speak to your pediatrician before offering it again. It’s especially important to check in with your doctor if your baby seems to react to almost every new food you offer, or there’s a history of allergies in your family.
What Should I Know About Food Allergies When Introducing Solids
Although it was once common to delay giving a baby certain foods like eggs, seafood, nuts and some dairy in the hopes of staving off allergies, the AAP no longer recommends doing so since the data shows that holding off on certain foods does not prevent food allergies.
In fact, the AAP now says that introducing allergenic foods like peanut butter earlier in a child’s life between 4 and 6 months and certainly by 11 months actually reduces her chances of developing a food allergy. Just be sure you’ve successfully introduced a couple of other solids first, and be sure to introduce the foods one at a time at home .
Can Babies Eat Oatmeal Made With Milk
Yes. Small amounts of milk can be used in cooking, as long it doesnt replace breastmilk or formula intake. Babies should not consume cows milk as a drink until closer to 12 months of age. Cows milk is generally not recommended for babies younger than 12 months old because it lacks the nutrition that breast milk and formula offer but using milk in prepared foods is okay. As with all common food allergens, start in small quantities and watch for signs of allergic reaction or intolerance. For more information on introducing milk and dairy to babies, see our Milk FAQs.
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How Do I Determine The Best Baby Food Portion Sizes
General serving size recommendations can be helpful, but remember that every baby is different. Its perfectly normal for your little eater to chow down one day and clamp her tiny mouth shut the next.
Try not to worry if your cuties appetite isnt always exactly the same, or if what she chooses to eat doesnt quite match up with the recommended servings.
Forcing your baby to eat when shes not interested isnt fun for either of you, and over time, it can make it harder for her to tune in to her bodys natural hunger and fullness cues.
Instead, focus simply on offering a variety of nutrient-rich foods in age-appropriate serving sizes and letting your little one take it from there. Your new nosher has the ability to take in what her body is asking for.
As long as youre offering balanced options, shell likely get what she needs over the course of the day or week.
On the other hand? Trust your gut. Talk with the pediatrician if you suspect that your baby has a feeding issue, seems uncomfortable or unusually fussy after eating, or doesnt seem to be gaining weight as she should be. Together, you can figure out whats going on and make mealtime more enjoyable.
Do Babies Need Teeth To Eat Non Purees
I know it can be difficult to wrap our heads around, BUT our babies do not need teeth to handle table/finger foods!
Their gums are super strong and more than capable of mashing, grinding down the food. Now, the real chewing is done by the molars not the front teeth, which dont come in until much later. And you do NOT want to wait until then to introduce them to non-pureed foods.
If youve decided to start with purees , do be sure to move forward with texture by no later than 9 months.
Ive also got some tips for you if you feel youre like stuck on purees.
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When Can I Offer My Baby Cow Milk
You can start offering small amounts of pasteurized whole cow milk in an open cup when your baby is:
- 9 to 12 months of age and
- Eating a variety of foods that are iron rich
Pasteurized whole goat milk can be offered if vitamin D and folic acid have been added to it. Check the product label.
Skim, 1% and 2% milk, and fortified soy beverage are low in fat and not recommended before 2 years of age. Dietary fat is important for the growth and development of babies and toddlers.
Do not give coconut, oat, rice or nut and seed beverages before 2 years of age. These drinks do not have enough fat, protein and other nutrients to meet your growing babys needs.
Ultimate Guide To Baby Led Weaning
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Learn the basics of how to do the feeding approach known as baby led weaning and the best first foods for baby to make starting solids easy and fun. Plus: Learn why its perfectly okay to use a combined approach of blw and purees.
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Breastmilk And Infant Formula While Introducing Solids
Keep breastfeeding or using infant formula until at least 12 months, as well as introducing solids.
If youre not sure whether your baby is getting the right amount of milk once they start solids, babys behaviour will tell you.
For example, if your baby has been eating plenty of solids and isnt finishing or is refusing milk, they might be ready for less frequent but larger milk feeds each day. If your baby isnt interested in solids, they might be too full from milk feeds. This means it might be time to reduce milk feeds.
Solids dont replace breastfeeding or infant formula. If solid food replaces breastmilk and/or infant formula too quickly, babies can miss out on important nutrition.
Tips For Managing Mealtime
Create a routine. A baby needs focus to eat, so start a routine where you wash their hands, soothe them, and then sit them down to eat. And maintain the calmness by turning off the TV and any loud music. “This will help your baby become conscious of eating and learn to recognize when he’s full,” says Marilyn Tanner, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
Understand that starting solids takes time. It will take time for your baby to feel comfortable with the new sensations that go along with eatingthe feel of a spoon in their mouth and the tastes and textures of different foods. “I reassure parents that you might get grimaces and horrible faces,” says Laura Jana, M.D., co-author of Food Fights. “My daughter used to shriek when I put a spoonful of food in her mouth. But she wanted more.”
Prepare for messes. Your baby will likely fling food everywhere, especially if you’re practicing baby-led weaning. This is common and doesn’t necessarily indicate a dislike. “Getting food into his mouth takes coordination and practice for the baby,” Tanner says.
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Feeding Your Baby: From 0 To 6 Months
Breast milk is the best food your baby can have during their first 6 months of life.
It’s free, always available and at the perfect temperature, and is tailor-made for your baby.
First infant formula is the only suitable alternative if you do not breastfeed or choose to supplement breast milk.
Other milks or milk substitutes, including cows’ milk, should not be introduced as a main drink until 12 months of age.
“Follow-on” formula is not suitable for babies under 6 months, and you do not need to introduce it after 6 months.
Babies do not need baby rice to help them move to solid foods or sleep better.
When using a bottle, do not put anything in it other than breast milk or infant formula.
How To Get Started With Weaning
There are two general approaches spoon-feeding and baby led weaning. I go into great detail discussing the pros and cons of each and much more to empower you to make the best decision for you and your family!
I also share a third approach you may not know about, so be sure to give the linked post a read! Ill be here waiting
Now, if youve already decided that youre going to do baby led weaning, heres everything you need to know and can prepare to expect during the first month.
And Here are some blw must-haves!
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How Should I Prepare Food For My Child To Eat
At first, its 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 babys 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: