Baby’s Nutritional Needs – 4 to 6 Months
You can start offering food between four and six months. Follow your child’s cues, if your child is noticing, reaching for, and curious about your food they may be ready. Earlier is not better, it is no rush. At this age food is all about exploration and it is not necessary for baby’s nutrition. Even if your four to six month old is excited about food and eating, they are not getting many calories through food. You should not reduce your child’s milk intake.
We recommend babies eat what the adults who care for them eat with minimal adaptations for safety and desirability. Read more on our what to feed baby post.
Whenever there is time. From four to six months you’re just experimenting so no need to establish a schedule just yet.
Young babies can eat sitting up in your arms. We recommend only using a chair at a low table or a high chair for feeding when your child has clear positional security in their chair. If your child is at all off balance or unsteady stick with lap feeding.
Just like all new things, go slow. If you’re offering a piece of food, place it in front of baby in grasping distance and allow baby to regulate if and how much they put in their mouth. Baby may not get it to their mouth at all at first and that is okay too. If you’re offering pureed food, put a small amount of food on a spoon, perhaps about a half a teaspoon, and show the spoon to your baby. A baby who wants to eat will reach for the spoon, open their mouth, smack their lips or move towards. Place the spoon in their mouth only if you see these cues. While you can touch a small dab of food to their upper lip if they have not opened their mouth, this technique is for babies who are very new to eating and may not know what is on the spoon and only appropriate if you have joint attention and eye contact.
The most common mistake we see at this age is stressing about starting and regularly offering solids. Parents worry, but there is no pressure to make sure food happens everyday or at all.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. This framework is based on our experience and research. We promote practicing cued care and do not advocate for any specific feeding regime or counting children’s calories. The age ranges and the idea of percentages are to help families see there is normal variability across children and families. Look at the graphic as a framework knowing that each child and family is different.
“Starting Solid Foods – HealthyChildren.org.” 16 Jan. 2018, https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Starting-Solid-Foods.aspx. Accessed 20 Dec. 2019.
“Infant and young child feeding – World Health Organization.” 16 Feb. 2018, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/infant-and-young-child-feeding. Accessed 20 Dec. 2019.