Baby food: when to start solids, consistency and quantity of baby food (Pediatrician's guide)

Feeding your child their first solid food is an important and exciting milestone, you

are introducing your child to a whole world of flavors and textures.

But it can also be a little daunting as it also comes with a million questions.

Hi I'm Dr. Kavya and Today we are going to talk about complementary foods or weaning foods

The first 1000 days of life i.e, the 270 days that your baby spends inside the uterus and

the first two years after birth is the most critical period for nutrition.

Adequate nutrition during this period is fundamental to the development of your child’s full


So we are going to take a step by step approach to this nutritional journey starting with

weaning foods.

The first biggest question is When to start weaning

your baby is physically ready to take his/her first food after 4 months.

However the WHO, AAP and the IAP recommend to continue exclusive breast feeding for 6

months and to start first food after 6 months.

Now There are two important reasons for this recommendation

Breast milk provides all the essential nutrition that the baby requires during the first 6

months of life.

Any food that is introduced before six months is going to replace breast milk.

that is whatever energy that the child will derive from other foods would otherwise have

been derived from breast milk.

So the total amount of energy that the baby gets will remain same only where it gets this

energy from, that will get altered breast milk not only provides calories and nutrition

but it also provides additional antibacterial, immunological benefits that help the baby

fight infections . so when you start weaning foods before 6 months you are essentially

replacing the most nutritious and beneficial food that the baby is already receiving, that

is the breast milk.

Which is probably why, Studies have shown that growth of babies who have started taking

weaning foods from 4 months onwards as compared to those starting at 6 months is not that

different, even when you give the most nutritious and safe food.

After six months of age, however, it becomes increasingly difficult for the baby to meet

their nutrient needs from human milk alone which would be the ideal time to introduce

breast milk.

Apart from this there is also the added risk of exposure to food-borne pathogens.

In places where sanitation is very poor introducing complementary food will increase the risk

of exposure to food-borne pathogens which the baby is not equipped to fight.

. If your still having a difficult time deciding

when to start feeding them your baby will show you signs that he is ready for solids

Do you nurse about eight to ten times a day and yet she is suddenly crying for more feeds

or if you are giving formula, your baby is taking about 900 milliliters of formula.

Is your baby sitting up and able to control his/her head

Has your baby started teething Does he watch you eat and make chewing motions

? Or simple rule of thumb that is easy to gauge

is when your baby’s weight has he reached approximately twice its birth weight?

keeping all this in mind I would personally recommend to start weaning by 5.5 months so

that by the time your baby reaches 6 months when breast feeding is insufficient, you would

have established an additional source of nutrition.


Should you stop or gradually wean off of breastfeeding once you start with complementary food

The answer is no absolutely not Continue frequent, on-demand breastfeeding atleast until 2 years

of age and if you desire so even beyond 2 years.

This is because Breastfeeding continues to make an important nutritional contribution

well beyond the first year of life where the child

receive 35-40% of the child's total energy Research has shown that a longer duration

of breastfeeding can reduce risk of childhood chronicillnesses, boosts immunity and decreases

your baby’s risk for ear infections, allergies, asthma, diabetes, and, obesity, and improves

cognitive outcomes Before we go into what you can feed your child

its important to know how to prepare and store food



Practice good hygiene and proper food handling by

a) wash your hands thoroughly with soap before preparing food

and also your child’s hands before eating b) prepare food just before feeding

c) avoid feeding bottles unless you are properly euipped on how to sterilise

FOOD CONSISTENCY Start with soup like consistency and you can

gradually increase to paste like then to semi solid “lumpy” food and by the end of first

year your child should be able to chew food and eat small pieces soft fruits and vegetables

The most common problem that i have seen is that parents continue to spoon feed soft mashed

food even until 2 years and the child doesnt learn chewing motions.

A good time to introduce semi solid foods is by 9 months when the child starts learning

chewing movements.

Dont worry that your baby doesnt have teeth yet he can chew food with his gums and successfully


If you miss this window of 9-12 months to introduce solids the child may have feeding

difficulties in future, may take a lot longer to learn chewing solid foods and might continue

to prefer mashed foods.

So Make sure you Gradually increase food consistency and introduce solid foods by a 9 months of


This can be done by introducing “finger foods”

By 12 months, most children can eat the same types of foods as consumed by the rest of

the family

AMOUNT COMPLEMENTARY FOOD NEEDED Remember that the quantity does not matter

and it varies from child to child depending on the energy density of the food and also

it depends greatly on how much breast milk you child consumes.

Start with small amounts of food and increase the quantity as the child gets older, while

maintaining frequent breastfeeding.

As a rough guide Start with two to three tablespoon of puree initially gradually increase the

quantity weekly to about half a cup measuring 250ml BY 8 months of age.

And 3/4th to one cup by a year.

Just remember quantity does not matter What you should know more importantly is signs

to pick up that your child is full like Spitting food

Refusing to open their mouth Pushing spoon away

If your child doesn't eat suggested quantity of food then you can always make the food

energy dense by adding ghee or clarified butter or vegetable oils.

This ensures the baby gets the required energy even with small quantity of food.

Never force your child to eat this will only make them develop unhealthy relationship with

food which can develop as eating disorders later in life.

MEAL FREQUENCY When it comes to how many times you need to

feed your child start with once a day preferably in the noon at around 1pm initially, then

gradually increase to 2-3 times a day by 8 months and 3-4 times a day with 1-2 nutritious

snacks in between.

And don’t pay attention to the schedule that your friends’ babies are on.

Watch your one-of-a-kind baby for signs of when the time is right for the solid stuff


What specific foods can you start with, what combination of foods is the most nutritious

and specific food recipes and my holy grail recipes for perfect weaning food, thats all

coming up in my future videos, so stay tuned and please subscribe and click on the bell

icon because you dont wanna miss those videos.

Also like and share with people you think this video might help.

If you have any question regarding weaning foods definitely comment below i’ll try

to answer as many as i can.

And also i can probably include them in a Q&A session at the end of this series.