When to Start Weaning Your Baby Off Baby Food

When babies are born, it’s easy enough to feed them. Breast or bottle, on-demand or on a schedule, and that’s pretty much the extent of the decision-making process. Once babies can sit up and hold their heads up on their own, you can start introducing pureed foods one at a time. As they grow, though, it gets a little more complicated. How do you know when it’s time to wean your little one from pureed baby food and start solids? We’ve got some useful advice.

Six months is typically the age at which babies start pureed foods. Be sure to offer a variety of foods, one at a time, because there’s evidence that this can help reduce the risk of allergies. As your child eats more foods, he or she will take less milk or formula. From pureed foods, you’ll move to mashed foods, then chopped, then small bites and finger foods.

Moving away from jarred foods is important because, although pureed foods and solids may be nutritionally equal, whole foods are better for a child’s development. Children need to learn to adapt to new things, and as they grow and learn to self-feed, they’ll be better able to develop the natural sense of appetite that will be important throughout their lives. By about the age of two, most healthy, typically developing children can eat the same foods as the rest of the family.

Of course, care must be taken to keep your toddler from choking. Keeping the food soft and not circular is part of preventing choking hazards. Find ways to make your toddler’s food finger-friendly, cutting it into small bites the child can pick up and chew. Pizza can be cut into small squares, soft fruit, soft cooked vegetables, or fully cooked eggs can be placed on the child’s tray to offer practice for finger feeding, and bread can be sliced into strips.

Use good practices to help your child develop good eating habits. Make sure you’re eating the same healthy fruits and vegetables you’re stressing for your child. Don’t cater to picky eaters by making different meals for different family members, but don’t be too strict about finishing meals, either. The important thing is to frequently expose your child to a variety of healthy foods. Allow children to serve themselves as much as is reasonable, and don’t insist on large portions. Set clear expectations, gently guide your children into eating healthy foods, and help them learn to trust their own appetites.

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