baby feeding

Food diversification of the baby: how to do it?

Food diversification of the baby: how to do it?

While baby fed exclusively on milk since birth, it will now be necessary prepare a meal that meets their nutritional needs, and ensure the right choice of foods that he can eat, as well as giving him the right amounts according to his age.

Baby food diversification: new recommendations

As part of the National Health Nutrition Program (PNNS), Santé Publique France unveiled in mid-September 2021 the new national recommendations on food diversification (source 1), i.e. the gradual introduction of foods other than breast or infant milk in baby food.

Here are the main new features.

  • It is now possible to introduce all food groups (including pulses, whole grain products) and including foods known to be allergenic, from the start of diversification, ie between 4 and 6 months (eggs, peanuts, gluten, etc.);
  • The introduction of the different food groups can be done without respecting a particular order;
  • IIt is advisable to introduce new textures from 6-8 months (about 2 months after the start of diversification);
  • Do not hesitate to offer a food up to 10 times, because a baby may need time to appreciate it;
  • It is good to add fat (alternating oils of rapeseed, walnut, olive or from time to time a little butter) in homemade preparations or in those of the trade which do not contain it;
  • It is advisable to introduce sweet products at the latest possible age and in a limited way.

How much food for a baby according to his age?

In addition, Public Health France advises young parents to trust the appetite of the child, to be attentive to signs of satiation, and above all to do not force a child to eat. He will make you understand if the quantities are adapted to his hunger. At meals, serve small quantities and do not reserve your child unless he asks for it.

“At first, as his stomach is small, your baby takes only a few spoonfuls of puree, followed by ad libitum feeding or the bottle prepared in the amount indicated by your doctor. Gradually, he will eat more: trust his appetite, observe his reactions and never force him”. There is no quantity to reach, each child is different.

It is also a good idea to be attentive to the environment of the meal, in particular avoiding the presence of screens.

It should be noted that these new recommendations are the subject of four videos on YouTube for young parents, which will be broadcast on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. Otherwise, 6 thematic tutorials will also be made available to parents. A guide titled “Step by step your child eats like a grown-up” is also made available to parents on the website You will also find a table of food diversification.

When and how to start food diversification in a 4 month old baby?

Know that there is no dogma in the matter except that it should not start before the age of 4 months (to avoid the risk of developing a food allergy), and if possible, not after 6 months.

From 4-5 months

The pediatrician can suggest diversification for a so-called baby “glutton”, who drinks large quantities of milk; the aim being to limit the calories provided by milk by introducing other foods. Some parents, because they like vegetables, also want to diversify their baby’s food as soon as possible. It may also be advisable to start food diversification early because of reflux, solid food helping to limit the rise of the food bolus.

From 6 months

But a baby who drinks his infant milk well, who grows and grows harmoniously can wait for six months to discover fruits, vegetables, starches…

As long as the mother is breastfeeding (until the child is six months old in general), there is no need to rush. On the other hand, if the child shows an increasing interest in the food of the parents, it may be that he is ready to discover new flavors.

When is the best time to start food diversification?

The best time to start dietary diversification is the midday meal after the morning siesta. Proceed in stages by introducing foods in small quantities that you will increase regularly.

Your baby will go from six daily food intakes to five and then from five to four quite quickly. At 8 months he will normally eat four meals a day.

Until the age of 3 years, his diet should always contain at least the equivalent of 500 ml of milk per day, ideally growth milk, or 3rd age milk.

And the snack, then?

At snack“preferably offer a toast and a fruit (or a compote) or a dairy product”, advises Public Health France in the PNNS. In fact, it is better limit pastries, cakes, cookies, chocolates as much as possible and introduce them at the latest possible age. “If your child has already had a snack at the crèche or at the nanny’s, avoid giving him a snack again, even if you want to please him…”.

What vegetable to give a 4 month old baby?

It is often advised to start with vegetables first before introducing fruits, babies having a natural craving for sweets, they will have less difficulty accepting fruits than vegetables.

Cook the vegetables boiled or steamed, without adding salt : green beans, spinach, zucchini, white leeks, carrots. Offer them with a spoon to allow a better taste discovery.

How much ?

  • At 5 months: 2 to 3 teaspoons of vegetables per day;
  • At 6 months: the equivalent of half a jar of vegetables (50-60g);
  • At 1 year: 80 to 100 g divided between midday and evening;
  • At 18 months: 100 to 150 g divided between midday and evening.

When to give fruit to a baby and how much?

After the vegetables come the fruits. You can start giving it to baby at 4 or 5 months.

  • From 4 months: in addition to the bottle or the midday or afternoon feeding, you can offer the baby 1 to 2 teaspoons of cooked and mixed fruit;
  • At 6 months: half a jar of compote a day;
  • At 12 months: a jar of compote to share at lunch and snack time;
  • At 18 months: 2 fruits per day. The fruit corresponding to the value of the closed fist of the child. Thus for small handcuffs, half an apple corresponds to the value of a whole fruit.

Starches: how much to give your baby?

  • At 5 months: a teaspoon a day of cereal;
  • At 6-8 months: a small potato to put with the vegetables and 1 tablespoon of cereal;
  • At 12 months: 2 to 3 tablespoons of cereal, 2 egg-sized potatoes, and a slice of bread;
  • At 18 months : 3 to 4 tablespoons of cereal, 3 potatoes the size of an egg, and 2 slices of bread;
  • At 3 years old: 3 egg-sized potatoes, and 3 slices of bread.

Dairy, yogurt and cheese to be given alternately

Whether breast milk or infant formulauntil its 4 months, baby feeds exclusively on milk.

Then it is possible “give yoghurt, Swiss cheese and unsweetened cottage cheese, a little grated cheese from time to time to melt in purees, it is possible from the beginning of diversification, in addition to breastfeeding or bottle feeding”.

However, milk remains his staple diet. From the age of 1, even if your child eats other dairy products, he still needs to drink milk (approximately 500ml per day) for breakfast and snacks. remember

Very important : do not give raw milk or raw milk cheesesbecause of the risk of infection. Dairy products that contain 0% fat are also not suitable” baby’s needs because they do not contain enough fat.

Meat, fish and eggs: generally not before 6 months

Your baby will be able to taste all meats including white ham(except offal and charcuterie) and fish fillets (hake, monkfish, sole, dab, etc.) which will be steamed or boiled. Eggs should be eaten hard, crushed very finely, with the yolk well cooked.

  • Before 8 months : 10 g of mixed meat per day (2 teaspoons);
  • From 8 months : one portion per day of approximately 20 g of meat, fish or half-egg, mixed (20 g correspond to 4 teaspoons);
  • From 1 to 2 years : 30 g of meat, or fish, or half-egg, ground (6 teaspoons);
  • 2 to 3 years old : 40 g of meat, fish or egg (8 teaspoons).

Water, the only essential drink for babies

The water faucet is very suitable for young children (unless otherwise indicated by the town hall). “If you use bottled water, check on the label that it is suitable for infants. Do not hesitate to offer water by the cup or glass from 6 months”advises Public Health France.

Commercial or squeezed fruit juices (even without added sugar) and fruit drinks are very sweet and are not recommended.

Books to read

  • The baby’s guide: accompanying babies from 0 to 1 year old, Pierre Perbos, Dr Bernard Topuz. ed. Librio Flammarion and the Mutualité Française.
  • 115 gourmet recipes for allergies, young and old, Catherine Bourron-Normand, Béatrice Vigot-Lagandré, Karine Garcette; ed. Solar.

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