U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

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!

Image
swaddle wrapped baby icon
Birth to 6 Months

Learn more

Image
baby icon
Around 6 Months

Learn more

Image
baby bib icon
First Foods

Learn more

Image
open book icon
Resources

Learn more

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.
Image
collage of images, white dad and sitting white baby, asian baby on tummy, black mom smiling with baby on chest

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.

Resources

Image
father mother and child

Infant and Nutrition Feeding Guide

View

Image
Woman on smart phone while pumping for breast milk

How to Clean, Sanitize, and Store Infant Feeding Items

English   Spanish

Image
preparation of breast milk cover

Storage and Preparation of Breast Milk

English   Spanish

Image
breast pump fact sheet cover

How to Keep Your Breast Pump Kit Clean

English   Spanish

Image
Reducing Risk of Choking in Young Children cover

Reducing the Risk of Choking in Young Children

English   Spanish

Image
how to prepare and store powdered infant formula cover

How to Prepare and Store Powdered Infant Formula

View

Image
Asian father feeding baby with bottle with asian mother watching

Infant Formula Feeding Information from CDC

View

Image
happy baby eating orange food in high chair

Signs Your Child is Hungry or Full

View

Image
cdcs milestone tracker cover

CDC’s Milestone Tracker

View

Image
DGA logo

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

Learn more

Image
Start Simple app on phone and watch

Start Simple with MyPlate App

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

Learn more