Making appropriate food choices for your baby during the first year of life is very important. More growth occurs during the first year than at any other time. It’s important to feed your baby a variety of healthy foods at the proper time. Starting good eating habits at this early stage will help set healthy eating patterns for life.
Recommended Feeding Guide for the First Year
Breast milk and formula are designed to be the primary sources of nutrition throughout an infant’s first year of life. You should talk with your baby’s health care provider before starting solid foods.
Solid foods should not begin before age 4 months because:
- Breast milk or formula provide your baby with all the nutrients that are needed.
- Your baby isn’t physically developed enough to eat solid food from a spoon.
- Feeding your baby solid food too early may result in poor feeding experiences and increased weight gain in both infancy and early childhood.
Complementary Feedings (After 6 Months of Age)
Offer only breast milk or formula in bottles until 1 year of age unless specifically advised by your health care provider.
Begin offering breast milk and/or formula in a cup starting at 6 months of age. Infants should drink breast milk and/or formula for the first year of life.
- Fruit juice is not recommended under 1 year of age.
- When introducing juice, offer 100% pasteurized juice and limit it to 4–6 ounces per day. Do NOT place juice in a bottle.
- Avoid giving any sugar-sweetened beverages to infants.
Introduce solid foods when your infant is ready, at around 6 months of age depending on the infant’s development. Infants are ready to start eating solid foods when they can:
- Sit up on their own or with a little support
- Reach for and put things in their mouth
- Open their mouth when seeing something coming
- Keep food in their mouth rather than pushing it out onto the chin
- Move food to the back of their mouth with their tongue
- Turn their head away when they do not want something
Prepare to introduce solid foods in a calm feeding environment where the infant is sitting upright and is appropriately supported and moderately hungry.
Start with small amounts of solid food, feeding with a spoon or allowing finger feeding, then gradually increase the amount as the infant eats more and develops. Avoid offering breast milk or formula until after the solid-food experience has wound down.
Expose infants to a wide variety of flavors and textures of healthy food. Don’t limit your baby’s food choices to the ones you like. Offering a range of foods early will pave the way for healthy eating habits.
Observe infants for any signs of intolerance when introducing a new food or texture, and discuss all concerns with your health care provider.
Avoid honey in any form during your child’s first year, as it can cause infant botulism. Address any concerns about developing food allergies with your health care provider.
Don’t restrict fat and cholesterol in the diets of very young children, unless advised by your child’s health care provider. Children need calories, fat and cholesterol for the development of their brains and nervous systems, and for general growth.