What Should Children Eat and When?
From birth to 6 months of age
- Infant formula
From 6 months to 1 year:
- Solid foods: strained fruits, vegetables, cereals, meats
- No cow's milk or egg whites till after 1 year.
- No nuts till after 1 year (or later, if family history of allergies).
There are no nutritional advantages but there ARE disadvantages to introducing foods earlier than 4 month of age.
Readiness for Solid Foods:
- Can sit unsupported.
- Physically able to suck food from a spoon without pushing it back out with the tongue.
- Reaches for food, shows interest in food.
What About Developmentally Delayed Children?
- Introduction of solids may be delayed until they develop the above supporting skills.
- Children who cannot sit unsupported will need custom seating systems to hold them upright during eating.
- Children who cannot control head and neck movements, or cannot coordinate the muscles of the mouth may be limited to liquids or alternate forms of feeding (G and J tubes).
- Some children will be able to eat pureed foods but will not develop biting and chewing skills.
- Children with brain damage or certain diagnoses may be at higher risk for choking and aspirating food. These children mayl need alternate forms of feeding.
The Window of Opportunity
The window of oral-motor development closes around 10-12 months of age. If an infant is not introduced to oral eating or oral stimulation by this age, introducing oral eating later on will be extremely difficult.