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Guide for introduction of foods

Guide for introduction of foods

By Betsy Clawson, PhD, LCP, Behavioral Coordinator, Children's Feeding Program, and Megan Proud, Nutritionist

During your child's first two years there are several important feeding milestones to consider. Use the following as a guideline to know when to introduce new foods and what foods are best for your child during these early years.

Introduction of foods

0-4 months:

  • Baby should be consuming only breast milk or formula with iron
  • Cereal should be added to the formula only under the recommendations of a doctor

4-6 months:

  • Continue with breast milk or formula with iron
  • Rice cereal (made with breast milk or formula) may be introduced. Start with rice because it is more easily tolerated, then try oat and barley cereals
  • Use single grain cereals before adding multigrain cereals
  • Each time a new food is introduced, wait three or four days before introducing another one; if your child has an allergic reaction it makes it easier to identify the cause

6-8 months:

  • Baby cereals with fruit and teething biscuits can be introduced
  • Fruits and vegetables may be introduced - start with vegetables first
  • Use plain fruits rather than cobblers or pudding
  • Servings should start small and gradually increase to two tablespoons, twice per day
  • Citrus juice is too acidic for most babies; we recommend white grape or pear juices as a better option

8-10 months:

  • Meats can be introduced, but may not be accepted on first tasting
  • Mix a small amount of meat with baby's favorite vegetable and gradually work toward separating the two
  • Use plain meats
  • Lumpy foods such as well-cooked pasta, pieces of soft or canned fruit, and cooked chopped vegetables can be introduced
  • Avoid foods such as raisins, nuts, grapes and hot dogs as they present a choking hazard

10-12 months:

  • As babies insist on feeding themselves, try serving thick-textured food such as mashed potatoes or casseroles that will stick better to a spoon
  • Expand finger foods to include finely chopped meat, chicken or fish

12-24 months:

  • At this age a child can drink breast milk, whole cow's milk or enriched soy milk from a cup. Low-fat milk should not be given until after the age of 2
  • A variety of chopped table foods should be offered. We recommend: six servings of grains, two to three servings of fruits, two to three servings of vegetables, two servings of protein and three cups of milk per day
  • Serving sizes: 1 grain = ? slice of bread, ? cup of cereal or 2 crackers; 1 fruit/vegetable = ? cup; 1 protein = ? cup or 1 ounce

Use the following tips to help make meals more enjoyable for the entire family.

  • Praise your child for good eating practices. Avoid being critical of poor eating practices. Avoid using threats to encourage good behavior.
  • Refusing to eat is one way of getting attention. Stay calm; making a scene only encourages this behavior. If children learn they can push your buttons by rejecting foods, mealtime will turn into a battle.
  • Keep your snacks and mealtimes predictable. Limit snacks to small portions; make sure your child hasn't filled up on too many snacks or drinks in the late afternoon.
  • Introduce new foods again and again. Most kids take time to adjust to new foods. If your child refuses one at first try, try again a few days later. You may have to serve a food up to 10 times before your child will try it.
  • Gradually cut down on bottle or breastfeeding as your child eats more food (at around 6-8 months). Kids who drink too much may seem fussy because they don't have much room in their stomach for food. Offer the food first at mealtime, and then breastfeed or offer a bottle.
  • Feed your child only when he or she is sitting down at the table or highchair. Stand-up eaters can become all day snackers who are picky at mealtime because they are not hungry. Don't permit continuous nibbling.
  • Watch out for juice and soda. Sugary drinks don't offer the nutrition of milk, can lead to diarrhea, and fill kids up so they won't eat as much as they need to.

Meet the team

View all providers
Sarah Benton, PsyD, LCP
Sarah Benton PsyD, LCP Feeding Read more
Sangita Kling, RD
Sangita Kling RD Feeding Read more
Kimberly Ritenour, MS, RN, CPNP
Kimberly Ritenour MS, RN, CPNP Feeding Read more
Angela Smith, PhD, LCP
Angela Smith PhD, LCP Feeding Read more


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