Pediatric Nutrition

Feeding your baby (4 to 6 months)

UW Health's Pediatric Nutrition program in Madison, Wisconsin, features registered dietitians to educate and counsel children and parents and equip them with the tools they need for a healthier lifestyle.

Feeding Frequency

Most babies 4 months and older eat every two to four hours, or have three meals and two snacks. Solid foods, specifically pureed or strained foods, can be introduced between 4 and 6 months and provide for a longer duration between feedings.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until your child is 6 months of age before introducing solids.

Introducing Solid Foods

Your baby is ready to start solid foods when she or he can do all of these things:

  • Holds head up and sit with support in an infant seat or high chair

  • Puts fingers and toys in mouth

  • Shows interest in food and opens mouth when s/he sees food

  • Closes lips over spoon and does not push spoon out with tongue

  • Keeps food in mouth and swallows

  • Can turn head and mouth away to stop eating

To Keep in Mind

  • Baby cereal has been the traditional 1st food, but foods may be started in any order.

  • Babies who are mainly breastfed will get more of the iron and zinc they need if their first food is meat.

  • Every baby will advance with feedings at their own rate. Try not to worry if they refuse a meal.

  • Once your baby learns to eat one food, wait two to three days before trying a different food. This gives you time to notice any allergic reactions such as rashes, diarrhea, or vomiting. If your family has food allergies or your baby was born early, talk to your doctor before adding solid foods to your baby’s diet.

Safety First

American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations to prevent choking:

  • Never allow children to run, walk or lie down with food in the mouth. They should eat at a table or at least sit down.

  • Do not feed children less than 4 years old round or firm food unless the entire item has been chopped up.

  • The list of foods children are most likely to choke on includes hot dogs, whole nuts, seeds, whole grapes, candy (hard, gooey or sticky candy), popcorn, chunks of peanut butter, chunks of firm fruit such as apples, and chewing gum.

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