5 Guidelines for Introducing New Foods
Between 0 and 12 months of age, babies grow rapidly, which implies a high demand for energy and nutrients. Therefore, introducing new foods should be done progressively.
The initial nutrition and feeding of babies is based on milk as the only food, but as the child grows, you can begin to introduce new foods that will be necessary for his development.
One of the causes of childhood obesity is the premature interruption of breastfeeding and the introduction of solid foods before the age of 6 months.
When introducing new foods, you’ll need a lot of patience. You’ll have to perform various tests and be very attentive to your baby‘s signals.
Keep in mind some guidelines that you should follow depending on your child’s age.
Guidelines for introducing new foods
From birth to 4 months
From the moment he is born, your baby has an instinctive reflex for turning his head in search of the nipple when something touches his cheek. It’s essential that, during this stage, he doesn’t digest any food other than breast milk or formula.
The baby’s digestive system will be developing, so you shouldn’t feed him solid food until his body is ready.
Foods that you can give him:
- Only breast milk or formula.
From 4 to 6 months
In this stage, you can start to introduce cereals. You must start with those that don’t have gluten in order to avoid intolerance. These cereals can be dissolved in milk or presented as a porridge.
You can also start with fruits and vegetables. It’s best to start with apples, pears, bananas, oranges, pumpkin, zucchini or sweet potato, among others.
It’s important that you introduce these foods gradually and without adding salt or sugar.
Here is a list of ways you can know whether your child is ready to start solid foods:
How to know if your child can eat solid food:
- He can keep his head up on his own
- He can sit in his chair to eat
- He is able to chew
- He shows a significant increase in weight
- He has an interest in food
- He can carry food from the front of his mouth to the back of his mouth
- He can move his tongue from one side to the other
- He has lost the reflex of taking food out of his mouth with his tongue
Foods that you can incorporate:
- Pureed vegetables or porridges
- Mashed fruits
- Semi-liquid cereal fortified with iron
From 6 to 8 months
At this stage, babies will still be in the process of tasting fruits and vegetables. At this time, you can start introducing meat, which has a high nutrient content.
Start with white meats, such as chicken or turkey. Remember that the introduction should be gradual.
Foods that you can add to your baby’s diet:
- Pureed meat
- Cottage cheese or soy cheese
- Natural yogurt in small portions
- Pureed vegetables
- Cereals fortified with iron
From 8 to 10 months
This stage is very similar to the previous one. If all goes well and he correctly accepts all the good, you can start to introduce cereals with gluten, as well as fish.
Like meat, fish is a very nutritious food. You should start with white fish such as hake.
Signs that your baby is ready to eat food with his fingers:
- He can lift things with his thumb and index finger
- He can transfer things from one hand to another
- He takes everything to his mouth
New foods you can incorporate:
- Foods with protein (meat, chicken, fish, tofu, beans, lentils, chickpeas, among others)
From 10 to 12 months
By about 1 year of age, the baby will give some signs to let you know whether he is ready for you to introduce new solid foods. It’s important that you introduce the foods with two or three days separating them.
Signs that your baby can eat other solid foods:
- It is easier for him to swallow food
- He has more teeth
- He has stopped taking food out of his mouth with his tongue
- He tries to use a spoon
Foods that you can give him:
- Fruits cut into squares or strips
- Pieces of cooked vegetables
It’s very important that we’re correctly informed about a baby’s proper diet so that he can experience each stage progressively. Also, keep in mind that you shouldn’t over feed him.
He’ll tell you when he is satisfied, since his stomach will determine the amount of food he needs to eat.
If you have any questions about introducing new foods into your child’s diet, you can consult with your pediatrician for guidance.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Nutrition and Menu Planning for Children in the Child Care Food Program. Florida Department of Health Bureau of Child Care Food Programs. 2013. [Online].
- Gómez, M. Recomendaciones de la asociación española de pediatría sobre la alimentación complementaria. Comité de Lactancia Materna y Comité de Nutrición de la Asociación Española de Pediatría. 2018. [En línea].