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Infants

Infants

Start your infant off on the path of lifelong healthy nutrition.

The first year of a child's life is a critically important period for proper growth and development. Since they consume such small quantities of foods at this stage, it’s important to make every bite count!

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Birth to 6 Months

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Around 6 Months

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First Foods

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MyPlate Tips

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Resources
 

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Birth to 6 Months

  • From birth to about 6 months, feed infants only breast milk. Continue to feed them breast milk through at least the first year of life, and longer if desired. Learn about safe handling and storage of breast milk here.
  • If breast milk is unavailable, feed infants iron-fortified infant formula during the first year of life. Find info on storing and preparing powdered infant formula here.
  • Provide supplemental vitamin D to breastfed infants beginning soon after birth. If your infant receives both breast milk and iron-fortified formula, they too may need supplemental vitamin D. Always consult with your healthcare provider to determine if and how long supplements are needed.
  • Homemade infant formulas and those improperly and illegally imported should not be used. Toddler milks or toddler formulas should not be fed to infants, as they are not designed to meet the nutritional needs of infants.
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Around 6 Months

  • At about 6 months, infants will begin to show signs that they’re ready for solid foods. Every child is different. Here are some signs to look for:
    • Being able to control their head and neck
    • Sitting up alone or with support
    • Bringing objects to their mouth
    • Trying to grasp small objects, such as toys or food
    • Swallowing food rather than pushing it back out
  • Foods to avoid that can be a choking risk for young children include hot dogs, candy, nuts and seeds, raw carrots, grapes, popcorn, and chunks of peanut butter. Take steps to decrease choking risks by:
    • Offering foods in the appropriate size, consistency, and shape that makes them easy to chew and swallow
    • Making sure the infant is sitting up in a highchair or other safe, supervised place
    • Ensuring an adult is supervising at mealtimes
    • Not putting infant cereal or other solid foods in an infant’s bottle
  • Avoid feeding infants any foods that contain raw or cooked honey. Honey can contain the Clostridium botulinum organism that could cause serious illness or death among infants. Also avoid unpasteurized foods or beverages, such as unpasteurized juices, milk, yogurt, or cheeses, as they could contain harmful bacteria.
  • Avoid raw (uncooked) foods and wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before feeding them to your child.

First Foods

  • Complementary foods are foods other than breast milk or infant formula introduced to an infant to provide nutrients. Introduce nutrient-dense complementary foods and aim for a variety of foods, flavors and textures from all food groups. These complementary foods and beverages can help meet nutrient needs and should be selected carefully.
  • Include foods rich in iron and zinc, particularly for breastfed infants. Examples include fortified infant cereals, meat, and beans.
  • Introduce potentially allergenic foods (e.g., egg, cow milk products, tree nuts, wheat, crustacean shellfish, fish, and soy) along with other complementary foods. This may reduce their risk of developing allergies to these foods. However, cow milk and fortified soy milk, should wait to be introduced until 12 months or later.
  • Since taste preferences develop early in life, avoid feeding infants foods and beverages with added sugars and limit those higher in sodium.

MyPlate Tips on Alexa

Get MyPlate nutrition information straight to your home on your Amazon Alexa smart speaker, or on your phone or tablet via the free Amazon Alexa app. For more information, visit our MyPlate Alexa page.

Below are some of the many tips available for parents and caregivers on what and how to feed your baby. And just like the MyPlate.gov website and the Start Simple with MyPlate app, all of the information provided by MyPlate on Alexa is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.

Beverages

What your baby drinks is just as important as what your baby eats. Before 12 months of age, pediatricians agree that breastmilk, infant formula, and small amounts of plain water are the only beverages little ones should drink. Juice is not recommended -- even 100% juice. And experts recommend avoiding cow's milk until your baby turns 1 year old.

Added Sugars

Did you know that experts say there is no room for added sugar in a baby or toddler's diet? To keep sugar out of your child's diet, avoid sweet bakery goods. Once your baby starts eating foods around 6 months, offer your child small pieces of cut fresh fruit. Fruit is naturally sweet!

Introducing Foods - Safety

As you introduce foods around 6 months, remember safety first! You can make eating safer for your baby by steaming or cooking hard foods like carrots until they are soft, and by finely chopping, grating, mashing, or pureeing foods.

Vitamin D

Provide your baby with a vitamin D supplement soon after birth. Place a drop into a bottle, on your nipple, or in your baby's mouth once a day. Ask your doctor how much is right for your little one.

Allergenic Foods

When you start introducing foods around 6 months, experts recommend introducing peanut-containing products to infants before they turn 1 year old. Try mixing a small amount of creamy peanut butter with warm breastmilk or formula into a bowl of iron-fortified infant cereal. Make sure it's not too thick so your baby can enjoy it safely. Science shows that offering your baby foods like nut products -- as well as eggs, seafood, soy, and pasteurized yogurts or cheeses -- could prevent an allergy later in life.

Iron and Zinc

Did you know that offering your baby iron- and zinc-fortified infant cereal is a great first food? It provides two nutrients many young babies need and is a great way to start off introducing foods at around 6 months.

Introducing Foods - Timing

It is recommended that babies start eating foods at about 6 months. If your baby shows signs earlier, you can start foods as early as 4 months, but not any younger.

Brain Development

A baby's brain grows quickly. Help boost your child's mind by offering some first foods at about 6 months that contain important fatty acids, like cooked salmon, shrimp, tilapia, and trout. Offer your baby one ounce of fish once or twice a week. One ounce is about the size of three dice.

Developmental Readiness

Want to know if your baby is ready to start trying food? Look for if they can control their head and neck, sit up in a chair, and are grasping objects and bring them to their mouth. You just might have an active eater on your hands! Most babies start eating foods at about 6 months. If your baby shows signs these signs earlier, you can start foods as early as 4 months, but not any younger.

Variety - Foods, Flavor, Texture

Have fun feeding your baby their first foods starting at about 6 months. Expect the mess and remember that if at first you don't succeed -- try, try again! Sometimes a food has to be introduced up to 10 times before a baby likes it.

Introducing Foods - Safety

When it comes to introducing foods to your baby around 6 months, make sure they won't choke. Avoid foods like hot dogs, candy, nuts, seeds, grapes, popcorn, raw carrots, and chunks of peanut butter.

Honey

Honey is not safe for babies. Experts suggest waiting until your baby is at least 1 year old before offering them honey.

Introducing Foods - Safety

Infant cereal is a great option once babies start eating food at about 6 months. But putting infant cereal in a baby's bottle is not recommended and could cause your baby to choke. Experts recommend only putting breastmilk or formula in bottles.

Unpasteurized Foods

Some unpasteurized yogurts or cheeses may contain harmful bacteria. So, once your baby starts eating food at about 6 months, keep your baby safe by feeding only those that say "pasteurized" on the packaging.

Resources

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Healthy Eating for Infants

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MyPlate on Alexa

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Infant and Nutrition Feeding Guide

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How to Clean, Sanitize, and Store Infant Feeding Items

English   Spanish

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Storage and Preparation of Breast Milk

English   Spanish

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How to Keep Your Breast Pump Kit Clean

English   Spanish

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Reducing the Risk of Choking in Young Children

English   Spanish

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How to Prepare and Store Powdered Infant Formula

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Infant Formula Feeding Information from CDC

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Signs Your Child is Hungry or Full

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CDC’s Milestone Tracker

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Start Simple with MyPlate App

Build healthy eating habits one goal at a time! Download the Start Simple with MyPlate app today.

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Alexa Speakers and Devices

MyPlate on Alexa

Get MyPlate nutrition tips for your baby or toddler on Amazon Alexa devices or the free Alexa app.

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MyPlate.gov is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025