Introducing Solids to Infants
Content source: Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
The recommendation to introduce foods other than breast milk or infant formula is when they are about 6 months old. Introducing foods before 4 months old is not recommended.
Your child is developmentally ready if:
- 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.
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.
Here are some tips for preparing foods:
- 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.
Limit food that have added sugar such as candies, cookies, and processed food such as muffins, etc.
Remember, kids stomach are small. Limit the amount of liquids offered before and during food time.
Eating a lot of snacks during the day can interfere with your kid appetite. Offer only one morning snack and one afternoon snack. Avoid snacks 2 hours before the meals.
From 6 to 12 months old, breast milk and/or infant formula is still the main source of nutrition for your child, but solid foods will gradually begin to make up a bigger part of his or her diet.
It can be hard to know how much to give to your child to eat. Children’s bellies are small and cannot hold a lot of food. Here are things to keep in mind:
- Start small. Give 1 or 2 tablespoons of food, and watch for signs that he or she is still hungry or full.
- Balance. Solid foods are introduced over time and will gradually become a bigger part of his or her diet. Intercalate food and breast milk during this period.
- Feeding. Give your child something to eat or drink about every 2 to 3 hours, or about 5 or 6 times a day. This will give your child about 3 meals and 2 to 3 snacks every day.
As your child gets older, he or she may eat different amounts of food each day. This is normal.
Beginning around 12 months old, your child grows more slowly than when he or she was younger.
Your child may even go a couple of days without eating much at all. Over the course of a week your child should get all of the foods and nutrients he or she needs.
Allow your kid to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are satisfied. Offer the meals at the same time every day during the week and let your kid decide when they will eat.