Our doctor recommended us to start giving fruits to our little (4 months and some days) little girl, since the mother will return to work and won't be able to breastfeed so freely.

Ok, yesterday we started with apple, today with papaya. A very small quantity, in a very small (metallic) spoon, at room temperature.

Of course, she hated everything. We know that we should continue, very tiny little portions every day. But... does someone have a better procedure to introduce those new flavors and tastes? Any special recommendation about temperature, which fruits to give, or any other suggestion ?

Just to clarify, the food will be smashed, like smashed potatoes, not in small pieces... and will be just one of the meals, with the other 5 or 6 of the day being breastmilk.

  • The WHO recommendation suggests exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months not even distilled water is allowed. Any non breast milk foods pose a threat to gastro system of the infant and future digestive problems. Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 1:46
  • infants introduced to solid food before four months of age had a 6.3-fold increased odds of obesity at age 3, Dr. Susanna Y. Huh of Children's Hospital Boston and colleagues reported online in Pediatrics:abcnews.go.com/Health/w_ParentingResource/… Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 4:18
  • @Ali: The second reference refers to "formula fed babies", just to clarify. Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 5:29
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    @Ali - and the AAP recommends starting solid foods between 4 and 6 months of age based on signs of readiness. The child in this question is over 4 months of age, and the pediatrician most likely is aware of the signs of readiness.
    – justkt
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 16:01
  • The CDC recently released a report indicating that most children are beginning solids too early and that 6 months is probably a more appropriate age to introduce solids. I know I read it, I'll see if I can go find it...
    – Meg Coates
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 3:02

3 Answers 3


You could try the baby-led weaning approach. This approach begins by allowing babies to start tasting food, not mush or puree or some packet formula, while not expecting them to actually eat very much of it. We started our daughter using this approach at 5 months of age. At first, she ate mango, watermelon, tomato (with the skin removed) and kiwi (with skin and centre core removed). The key is to cut the pieces into a size that they can hold in their hands, and just let them do the eating. They can explore and learn to taste food, and will eat what they want, which typically is not very much at first.

At first there is a little bit of choking as they learn to handle the food in their mouths, so you need to be attentive and know how to deal with choking, but very quickly they learn to bite off proper sized mouthfuls, to chew properly and to avoid choking -- often by spitting out the food. It really is amazing how quickly they become good eaters.

Apart from helping baby develop the mechanics required to eat properly, it helps them develop a reasonable good taste for food. It only supplements breast milk, and initially you do not expect them to eat very much.

Of course, some common sense is required when trying baby-led weaning. Be careful about choking – checking the size of pieces, watching baby each –, but also realise that you don't need to puree anything. It really shows how amazing babies are at learning, and how much we underestimate them by pureeing everything. It's also much cheaper, because you don't need to buy formula or jars of pureed food (assuming that the baby is breastfeeding).

  • I was discussing with my wife that a approach similar to that could work, didn't knew it had a name... thanks! Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 11:43
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    It worked brilliantly for us ... until she learned the word "No". Now she refuses to eat food she previously loved, merely to exercise her new power. Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 13:57
  • @DaveClarke - our daughter did the same, though after refusing (and us taking the food away since she didn't want it), she'd get even more upset because she didn't have the food anymore! I imagine her thought process as something like "So that's what 'No' means..."
    – Krease
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 5:35

It has me a little concerned that your doctor suggested that you supplement your daughter's diet with solids rather than pumped breastmilk or even formula. I get that your wife is returning to work and won't be able to breastfeed as she can at home, but, at this age, all of your daughter's nutritional requirements should be met with either formula or breastmilk, and, solids, if introduced at this time are purely to allow her to practice the process of eating and become accustomed to new textures. They will probably not provide enough nutritional value to her to replace breastmilk or formula. While it's not unheard of to start a baby on solids at 4 months (my son started on solids at 4 months and was quite happy with them), 4 months can still be a little young for some children. My daughter wanted absolutely nothing to do with solids until she was 6 months old. Until a child is somewhere between 4-6 months old, he/she still has the tongue thrust or extrusion reflex. Just because she's pushing food out of her mouth doesn't necessarily mean she doesn't like it--just that she hasn't lost this particular reflex yet. What this means for you is that most of the food you place into her mouth is going to be forced out and very little, if any, is going to be swallowed. It is unlikely that at 4 months that she will open her mouth voluntarily for food on a spoon.

For a long time, doctors recommended starting babies on iron-fortified cereals like rice cereal mixed with water, formula, or breastmilk. It could be warmed to room temperature if you desired, but it was not necessary. Doctors are moving away from that and simply suggest that you introduce new foods VERY slowly. If you choose to introduce applesauce, feed your daughter applesauce everyday for 3-4 days (some doctors recommend as long as a week), watching to make sure she doesn't show any signs of an allergic reaction to the food. If no reaction occurs during those 3-4 days then you can move on to introducing another new food like sweet potatoes or peas. Otherwise, the order in which you introduce foods is entirely up to you. This site has a very nice guide on introducing foods to babies, including the clues to look for that indicate that your baby is ready for solid foods (sits well in a highchair, shows interest in food, can close mouth around spoon, etc.).

It's very easy when babies are little to become frustrated with them when it comes to solid food. One day, they're all about eating whatever you put on that spoon, and the next day they want nothing to do with it. Relax and go with the flow. Eating, at her age, is not really for nutrition so much as it's to experience different textures and flavors.

  • +1 for the last paragraph. I found that whenever my daughter was (and is) going through a lot of mental development she'd totally lose interest in food.
    – justkt
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 16:04

Fruits and vegetables are quite strongly flavored for a baby so young who has only had breast milk or formula. Usually it is best to start with cereals which are quite bland in flavor. They come powdered in boxes and you mix the tiniest bit into some breast milk, formula, or water so that it is quite runny. Once it is accepted, over time you can gradually make it a bit thicker. I would do cereals for a month or two, then start adding a little fruit or vegetable into the cereal before eventually giving fruits or vegetables on their own.

  • 1
    It really depends on the baby. My daughter, who was admittedly 5.5 months when we started solids rather than 4, absolutely loved sweet potatoes (her first food) and at 6 months would happily eat such strongly flavored foods as beef mixed with vegetables. We used rice cereal to thicken her purees and to provide a good source of B vitamins, but never by itself.
    – justkt
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 16:03

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