When should babies start eating baby food?

Introduce complementary foods: Here's how

Complementary foods: Learning to eat should be fun

Special plans for introducing complementary foods show how parents step by step replace individual milk meals with complementary foods. "The complementary food start is an educational game that everyone should enjoy," advises Gätjen. So first I try a few spoons of vegetables. For baby's taste, sweet-tasting vegetables such as carrots or pumpkin are best suited to the beginning. Not working yet? No problem. Then the parents will try again tomorrow - or in a few days. The main thing is that the little ones don't lose the fun of it. Because learning, brain researchers know, works best through positive experiences.

So as soon as the baby turns its head and refuses to eat, the spoon disappears. "Then parents shouldn't try to feed something with tricks either," advises Gätjen. If the newbies to eat generally spurn the spoon, fathers and mothers can try to feed the porridge with their little finger or on a piece of bread. Or offer soft-boiled pieces that some babies are more interested in. A good time for the first porridge is in the morning for Gätjen. As a rule, the little ones are rested and in a good mood.

Baby shouldn't be full, but neither should be hungry

Absolute frustration factor: When you serve porridge to a hungry tiny thing for the first time. If the stomach growls, no baby feels like experimenting. But neither on a full stomach. That's why parents have to stalk up: between two breastfeeding or bottle meals they try a little porridge. The baby is a little hungry and more willing to embark on the adventure. The porridge meal then gradually moves further in the direction of the milk meal that is to be replaced. But that can take time: "It only works for 20 percent of the children within a week," says Gätjen. "60 percent of children need four to five weeks and 20 percent even eight to ten weeks." In total, it takes at least four and a half months to switch from milk to solid food.

Solid food: the perfect start

Whether you cook it yourself or from a jar: First there is a vegetable puree, then a potato-meat-vegetable puree, then a milk-grain puree and finally a fruit-grain puree. Little by little, the little ones can try from the family table: soft-boiled noodles, some vegetables, a small piece of tender meat. Everything that the little ones want and that they can swallow well.

What should babies drink with the porridge?

In addition to the porridges, the child should continue to be breastfed or given infant formula. That covers his fluid needs. Drinks such as water or unsweetened tea are only necessary with the introduction of the third porridge.

And how does it continue?

Most of the children then sit at the table by the age of 17 to 18 months at the latest. Gätjen has an important and very relaxing tip for parents: "Cook for yourself and not for the children," she says. If you have lovingly and laboriously prepared a healthy children's meal, which the little ones then refuse, the frustration is great. "Then parents react offended," says Gätjen. And the nutritionist has another message: "A child has never starved to death in front of a full plate."