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Healthy Eating for Infants

Healthy Eating for Infants

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Healthy eating is important at every age. When it’s time for solid foods, offer babies a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy or fortified soy alternatives. When deciding on foods and beverages, choose options that are full of nutrients and lower in sodium and avoid added sugars. Start with these tips:

Feeding your young baby

If possible, feed your baby only breast milk from birth to about 6 months of age, and continue through at least the first year of life—longer if desired. If breast milk is unavailable, feed your baby iron-fortified infant formula. Talk to your healthcare provider about vitamin D supplements for your baby.

Look for cues

When your baby is hungry, he or she usually lets you know. But fullness cues are not as obvious. A child may be full if he or she closes mouth, turns head away from breast or bottle, or relaxes hands. Recognizing and responding to these cues helps children learn how to self-regulate their intake.

Starting solid foods

At about 6 months, infants may show signs that they’re ready for solid foods, such as bringing objects to the mouth or swallowing food rather than pushing it out. Do not put infant cereal or other solid foods in an infant’s bottle, but small amounts of water may also be introduced when your baby starts solid foods.

Serving first foods

Introduce a variety of foods, flavors, and textures from all food groups. Include foods rich in iron and zinc, particularly for breastfed infants. Examples include lean meats, fortified infant cereals, and beans.

Preventing choking

Make sure your baby is sitting in a highchair or other safe, supervised place for meals and snacks. Offer foods that are the appropriate size, consistency, and shape for your child’s age and eating skills.

Serving safe foods

Avoid feeding your baby any foods that contain raw or cooked honey. Honey can contain bacteria that could cause serious illness or death among infants. Also avoid unpasteurized foods or beverages, such as juices, milk, yogurt, or cheeses, as they could contain harmful bacteria.

The benefits of healthy eating add up over time, bite by bite.

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