Baby is being fed and has food round its mouth

Baby Milestones

Baby's first food – Dos and Don'ts in the Nutrition Plan

What Can I Put on Baby's Plate and What Should I Avoid?

A major milestone in a child's life is the first meal next to breast milk or bottled milk. However, this exciting step in development also raises numerous questions for many parents: what is the best way to start? What is a baby allowed to eat? And which foods are unsuitable for infants? Here you will find an overview of the most important information for your successful start with solids for babies!

When is the best time to start with solids?

Between the fourth and sixth month it is time for the gentle transition from breast milk or bottled milk to solid food. In addition to breastfeeding or bottle feeding, the first attempts at complementary solids can now begin.

The WHO recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life. However, this is particularly true in less developed countries where there is no other good food supply. In industrialized countries, on the other hand, an earlier start to solids is recommended IN ADDITION to breastfeeding, because it is assumed that some children already need more nutrients.

How to tell that your little one is ready for solid food:

  • Your baby can hold its head up unassisted
  • Initial attempts at sitting are already going quite well
  • Increased interest in solid foods eaten by others
  • Your baby does not instantly spit out the pureed food offered

When first attempting to feed your baby with solids, it is sufficient to provide small amounts of finely pureed food, around 2-3 teaspoons, and then gradually increase this quantity. When babies move their heads forwards to reach the spoon, this usually means "yes, I want more". Turning the head away and being easily distracted are the typical signs of "I've had enough now" (offering of breast milk again afterwards ensures that your baby is really full).

By around their first birthday, infants should be eating at the same time as the family – i.e., at breakfast, lunch, and dinnertime. However, as the little ones still need a lot of energy to grow, a snack in the morning and afternoon is recommended. Incidentally, this process usually happens almost automatically, because babies signal that they are hungry after about 3 hours at the latest.

Recommendations for introducing solid food to your baby

After the gentle introduction of a finely pureed mash of individual vegetables or fruits, it is recommended to supplement the mash with further vegetables, potatoes, and meat or fish. This is largely due to the better supply of iron and zinc. Around one month later, add milk and cereal puree or cereal and fruit puree.

What your baby IS ALLOWED to eat:

  • Cooked, pureed vegetables
  • Pureed fruit
  • Potatoes (cooked/steamed)
  • Meat cooked until well done
  • Cooked/steamed fish: e.g., salmon, mackerel, and trout. Important: remove all bones!
  • Rice
  • Oil: adding rapeseed oil to solids is usually recommended
  • Cereals: ground, flakes, or semolina
  • Pasta
  • Cow's milk for the preparation of puree

What are babies NOT ALLOWED to eat?

  • Salt 
  • Sugary foods: sugar, honey, sweeteners (especially in drinks) 
  • Spicy foods 
  • Artificial flavoring 
  • Raw produce: egg (soft egg, tiramisu), meat (e.g., roast beef, steak tartar), fish (e.g., sushi, smoked salmon) 
  • Unpasteurized milk and unpasteurized dairy products 
  • Cow's milk as a drink 
  • Curd cheese, fruit yogurt 
  • Sausages and sausage products (e.g., ham, sausages, bacon) 
  • Salty snacks/crackers 
  • Sweets, chocolate 
  • Drinks: soda, coffee, green and black tea, alcohol (also not in cooking) 
  • Whole nuts and seeds 
  • Fish: no tuna, swordfish, halibut, and pike (large, oily predatory fish may be contaminated with heavy metals) 
  • Hard foods that can cause the baby to choke 

Baby eats cooked vegetables

What else you should consider when planning your baby's diet 

In addition to the careful selection of food, the following points should also be taken into account when starting to introduce solids:

  • If you are only breastfeeding and feeding home-cooked puree, providing additional iodine is recommended – it is best to discuss this with a doctor 
  • Foods that pose an allergy risk should be included in the solids 
  • Early contact with fish may actually reduce the risk of allergies 
  • Simultaneous breastfeeding does not protect against gluten intolerance/celiac disease 
  • Early contact with gluten does not help to prevent an allergy 
  • It is recommended to introduce gluten gradually, i.e., only very small amounts initially, which are then slowly increased 
  • A vegan diet is not recommended, or you should always check this with your doctor 

That's all the information but now to the most important point: have fun cooking – and eating!

Photos: Shutterstock