- Your baby can eat baby food / solid food when he or she reached 6 months old, but not before 4 months old. Feeding him or her solid food before reaching 4 months is dangerous and may induce choking. From 0 to 4 Months, only feed your little one breast milk, formula milk, or both.
- You will know when your baby can eat baby food. If you see that he can sit up straight or is able to swallow, then you can start introducing solid foods.
- Start by introducing single-ingredient food and wait for 3-5 days to see if your baby shows any allergic symptoms. If no symptoms arise, gradually increase the food servings. You can introduce more solid foods during this stage.
- Always observe your baby when eating.
Related Read: Healthy Snacks for Kindergarteners (Recipes + Ideas)
When can a baby eat baby food?
Your baby’s first year is always an exciting part of any parent’s life. It passes by so fast and yet a lot of milestones can be observed during this period. One of such milestones is eating solid foods.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your baby can begin eating solid foods when he or she reached 6 months old. In addition to the added taste and texture that help with cognitive development, your baby can benefit from the added nutrition that comes along with eating baby foods.
Likewise, introducing solid foods to your baby’s diet strengthens the teeth and jaws.
Usually, babies will show signs that they are ready to eat solid food by the time they reach 6 months old. However, if you feel that your baby is ready earlier than 6 months, you may introduce so, but not before 4 months old.
When your baby is born prematurely or is with a disability, always consult your pediatrician on when is the best time to introduce solid foods.
Why can’t I introduce solid foods before 4 months old?
From 4-6 months, babies stop pushing food out of their mouths using their tongues. During this stage, they begin developing chewing and swallowing coordination. The risk of choking is increased if parents introduce solid food before this age.
Another reason is that foods such as carrots, squash, and spinach may contain high amounts of nitrates which may cause methemoglobinemia (blood disorder).
My baby is now 8 months old and is not eating solid foods yet. What should I do?
When babies reached 7-8 months, they should be able to eat different food types from different food groups. When your baby is full-term and is not eating solid foods yet, it is best to consult your pediatrician.
How can I tell if my baby is ready to eat solid foods?
You can tell when your baby is ready to eat his or her first solid foods other than breast milk and formula when you observe the following:
- Your baby has good neck and head control and can sit upright on a high chair, or straight when supported
- Your baby shows interest in food such as watching what others eat, grabbing food, and opening their mouth when you pretend to feed them solid food.
- He starts putting objects in his mouth.
- He doesn’t push food out of his or her mouth. Pushing food outward is a normal tongue and mouth reflex of infants.
Usually, these signs manifest when your baby reaches 6 months old. However since every baby is different, always observe your child.
How much food should I give my baby?
When starting to introduce solids to your baby’s diet, it is advised to give them no more than 1 to 2 tablespoons of mashed or pureed iron-fortified baby cereal once or twice a day after breast milk or formula feeding.
Once you notice that your baby is getting a hang of swallowing, try to reduce the amount of liquid mixed with the cereal and increase the serving size.
What type of baby food should I give?
To start, it is always best to introduce single-grain, iron-fortified cereal. Some suggest that it is ok to add a bit of spice or seasoning to your baby’s meal. To be safe, stick with mashed/pureed foods.
The texture must be smooth and soft. You can add chopped or minced food later on. It is best to wait until your baby is around 7 to 8 months old. Introducing different food textures can make your baby’s eating experience fun and enjoyable.
Here is a list of food you can give to your baby:
It is best to feed your baby iron-rich foods
- Mashed/Pureed fruits such as banana, avocados, peaches, pears, melons, and apples
- Mashed/pureed vegetables such as butternut squash, carrots, pumpkins, and sweet potato
- Pureed protein such as meat, chicken, and fish (don’t forget to remove bones to avoid choking)
- Yogurt and full-fat cheese
Eventually, you will notice that your baby is picking up finger foods. Try introducing foods such as pieces of fruits, pasta, bread, and other soft foods.
When feeding your baby solid foods, it is best to do so after they have breastfed, or have been fed formula milk.
Avoid giving your baby the following foods
Certain foods are bad for your baby. Listed below are some of the solid foods that you should not give your baby:
- Raw vegetables
- chunky meat such as hot dogs, and other packaged foods
- raw or runny eggs, or ingredients with raw eggs such as mayonnaise – until 12 months old (to avoid bacterial infection)
- choking hazards such as nuts, popcorn, pretzels, seeds, grapes and pomegranates, and sticky food such as marshmallows – until 3 years old.
- Honey – until 12 months old (to avoid the risk of botulism)
- reduced-fat dairy – until 24 months old.
- pasteurized cow’s milk – until 2 years old
- dairy alternatives such as soy, almond or oat milk – until 2 years old
- unpasteurized milk
- fruit juices – this contains too much sugar. introduce actually fruits instead.
- sugary drinks
Introducing highly allergenic foods
When it comes to introducing allergenic food, especially for families with food allergies, it is best to consult pediatricians.
And while it is nerve-wracking to introduce foods that are known to cause food allergies, introducing potentially allergenic foods early on may prevent food allergies from developing.
It is best to introduce allergenic foods with complementary foods. It is also advised that you keep on including them in your baby’s diet, and gradually increase in quantity.
Sample of allergenic foods are as follows:
- wheat (bread, pasta, and cereals)
- dairy such as eggs and cow’s milk
- peanut butters or other nut butters
- Nuts such as peanuts and tree nuts
When can I introduce water?
Once your baby reached 6 months old, it is ok to introduce boiled and cooled water in a cup.
You can also give water to your baby after eating, but it should be no more than 8 ounces per day as this will make them feel full. It is still better, at this point, to give breast milk or formula milk.
Tips on making your baby’s meal an enjoyable experience:
Just like any other activity, your baby may or may not like eating solid food on his or her first few tries. No need to worry though! Since this is a new experience for your little one, it may take 8-10 tries for your baby to like eating solid foods.
Here are some tips on how to make your baby’s first foods an enjoyable meal experience:
- Cook food until they are soft enough to mash with a fork. Add more liquid to make it runny and easier to swallow and digest.
- Remove skin, bones, seeds, or anything that may cause choking.
- Seat with your baby! Nothing gives more pleasure than your baby seeing you eating with him or her.
- Let your child play. Your baby will most likely play with their food.
- Use a cup during meal times as this may help your little one wean out of the bottle
- Use utensils such as small spoons, silicon bowls, and cups.
More importantly, don’t force your baby to eat. Eating should be an enjoyable experience. Force-feeding them makes it a bad experience which may eventually affect their behavior towards food.
Frequently Asked Questions
When can my baby start using a spoon?
When babies start eating more solid foods like pasta, or bite-sized chunks of fruits, they will likely use their hands. Their experience of eating with a spoon will come from theor parents.
When babies try to reach out for the spoon, it may be a sign that it is safe to let them use one. Just be sure to use baby-appropriate utensils.
When can they drink water?
Babies can drink water by the time they reach 4 to 6 months old. You may give them water after eating baby food. However, remember that it should not be more than 8 ounces per day as breast milk or formula milk should still be their main source of food and nutrition.
When are babies ready to shift from puree to chunks?
Babies can usually start eating more solid foods by the time they reach 8 months. However, since every baby is different, your baby may show signs that he can eat more solid foods as early as 7 months, or as late as 10 months of age.