Breast milk or formula should be the primary source of nutrition for babies under 1 year old. The first foods we introduce to our babies are often called “complementary foods” because the idea is to introduce foods that complement breast milk/formula, not to simply replace milk.
Introducing solid/table/first foods should start when babys mouth and gut are ready to tolerate digesting them. Baby’s tongue thrust reflex should have disappeared, baby should be able to sit unsupported for at least the length of a meal, and baby should be using a pincher grasp to be able to bring their own food to their own mouth. This usually happens around 6 months, although for some it’s a little younger and others a little older. Food choices should be about exposing baby to a full palate of flavors and a wide variety of textures that add to baby’s feeding experience without taking away the nutrients and energy found in milk. The goal of complementary feeding is NOT to try to fill baby up with as much food as possible to cut back on giving breast milk or formula. It’s about baby gradually increasing the amount of foods eaten from your family’s unique diet across multiple months.
Cooked sweet potatoes, mashed avocado or banana, purée canned pears or peaches, and cooked carrots are wonderful first foods and simple to make. Next offer foods from your family table first (in the appropriate purée or cooked and cut form). Your baby has already been exposed to what you eat on a daily basis through your milk and they’ll have a higher likelihood of preferring those foods. Many foods marketed for babies, like rice cereal or oats, don’t actually add any nutritional value to baby’s diet. Read jarred food labels carefully for preservatives and sugar. There’s also a risk of filling your baby up with low calorie jarred foods which then decreases the amount of nutrient dense milk they will want to drink.
Remember: just as every family eats different foods and has their own unique way of doing meals, so does every tiny human. If you’re concerned about your littles eating habits, request feeding therapy with an occupational therapist at your next pediatrician appointment.
⭐️ The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until 2 years of age
⭐️ Breast milk never loses its nutritional value and is good for children at any age
⭐️ From 7-9 months babies need about 250 calories from food a day
⭐️ From 10-12 months babies need around 450 calories from food a day