Baby food
Baby food is any food
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals...

, other than breastmilk or infant formula
Infant formula
Infant formula is a manufactured food designed and marketed for feeding to babies and infants under 12 months of age, usually prepared for bottle-feeding or cup-feeding from powder or liquid . The U.S...

, that is made specifically for infant
A newborn or baby is the very young offspring of a human or other mammal. A newborn is an infant who is within hours, days, or up to a few weeks from birth. In medical contexts, newborn or neonate refers to an infant in the first 28 days after birth...

s, roughly between the ages of four to six months to 2 years. The food comes in multiple varieties and tastes, can be produced by many manufacturers, or may be table food that the rest of the family is eating, mashed up. Because infants lack teeth, many different baby foods are designed for ease of eating; they are either a soft, liquidy paste or an easily chewed f
Babies typically move to consuming baby food once nursing
Nursing is a healthcare profession focused on the care of individuals, families, and communities so they may attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life from conception to death....

 or formula is not sufficient for the child's appetite. Babies do not need to have teeth to transition to eating solid foods. Teeth, however, normally do begin to show up at this age. Care should be taken with certain foods that pose a choking hazard, such as undercooked vegetables, or food that may contain bones. Babies should begin eating liquid style baby food, sometimes mixed with rice cereal
Rice cereal
Rice cereal is a common baby food product in the United States.- In stores :The primary ingredient of all rice cereal is rice.Most commercially available rice cereals in the US contain extracted ingredients that a naturally breastfed baby may find to be a shock to the system, such as soy oil,...

 and formula, or breastmilk. Pureed vegetables and fruits are an example of liquid style baby food. Then, as the baby is better able to chew, small, soft pieces or lumps may be included. Care should be taken, as babies with teeth have the ability to break off pieces of food but they do not possess the back molars to grind, so concerned parents should carefully mash or break baby food into manageable pieces for their baby. Around 6 months of age, babies may begin to feed themselves (picking up food pieces with hands, using the whole fist, or later the pincer grasp- thumb and forefinger) with help from parents.

The World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

, UNICEF and many national health agencies recommended to give baby any solid food only at around 6 months of age, but babies differ greatly. A good way to know when to introduce baby food is to watch for signs of readiness in the child. Signs of readiness include the ability to sit without help, loss of tongue thrust and the display of active interest in food that others are eating. Baby may be started directly on normal family food if attention is given to choking hazards, this is referred to as baby-led weaning. Because breastmilk takes on the flavor of foods eaten by the mother, these foods are especially good choices.

If there is a family history of allergies, one may wish to introduce only one new food at a time, leaving a few days in between to notice any reactions that would indicate a food allergy
Food allergy
A food allergy is an adverse immune response to a food protein. They are distinct from other adverse responses to food, such as food intolerance, pharmacological reactions, and toxin-mediated reactions....

 or sensitivity. This way if baby is unable to tolerate a certain food then it can be determined which food is causing the reaction.


As a global public health
Public health
Public health is "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals" . It is concerned with threats to health based on population health...

 recommendation, the World Health Organization recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Six month old infants are physiologically and developmentally ready for new foods, textures and modes of feeding. Experts advising the World Health Assembly
World Health Assembly
The World Health Assembly is the forum through which the World Health Organization is governed by its 194 member states. It is the world's highest health policy setting body and is composed of health ministers from member states....

 have provided evidence that introducing solids earlier than six months increases babies' chances of illness, without improving growth.

One of the health concerns associated with the introduction of solid foods before six months is iron deficiency. The early introduction of complementary foods may satisfy the hunger of the infant, resulting in less frequent breastfeeding and ultimately less milk production in the mother. Because iron absorption from human milk is depressed when the milk is in contact with other foods in the proximal small bowel, early use of complementary foods may increase the risk of iron depletion and anemia.


  • On June 29, 2011, Nestlé
    Nestlé S.A. is the world's largest food and nutrition company. Founded and headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland, Nestlé originated in a 1905 merger of the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company, established in 1867 by brothers George Page and Charles Page, and Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé, founded in 1866 by Henri...

     France decided as precaution to recall a batch of P'tit pot baby food that were stored in glass jars. This was due to a customer reporting that they found shards of glass in the baby food, which sparked an investigation into whether it was an isolated incident involving one jar or a whole batch; the company concluded it was of just one jar.

Around the world

From Cookery for Children, Sarah Josepha Hale, 1852:
Baby food varies from culture to culture. In many cultures, pastes of a grain and liquid are the first baby food. In the Western world until the mid-1900s, baby food was generally made at home. The industrial revolution saw the beginning of the baby food market which promoted commercial baby foods as convenience items. In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, babies are now often started with commercially produced iron-fortified infant cereals, and then move on to mashed fruits and vegetables. Commercial baby foods are widely available in dry, ready-to-feed and frozen forms, often in small batches (e.g. small jars) for convenience of preparation. Commercially prepared baby foods in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 were first prepared by Martinus van der Hagen through his NV Nutricia
Numico , is a specialist baby food and clinical nutrition subsidiary of Groupe Danone. Products range from infant formula to specialised nutrition for babies with specific needs and for breastfeeding mothers. It also produces and markets special clinical nutrition, diet products and...

 company in 1901. In United States they were first prepared commercially by Fremont Canning Company
Fremont Canning Company
Fremont Canning Company established the baby food enterprise of Gerber Products Company.-Founders:The company was founded by Frank Daniel Gerber and his father in 1901 in Fremont, Michigan. The canning company began with a ten thousand dollar investment. The firm initially marketed canned peas,...

 in 1928. The Beech-Nut
Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation is a baby food company that is currently owned by the Swiss branded consumer-goods firm Hero Group.- History :...

 company entered the U.S. baby food market in 1931. The first precooked dried baby food was Pablum
Pablum is a processed cereal for infants originally marketed by the Mead Johnson Company in 1931. The trademarked name is a contracted form of the Latin word pabulum, meaning "foodstuff", which had long been used in botany and medicine to refer to nutrition, or substances of which the nutritive...

 which was originally made for sick children in the 1930s. Other commercial baby food manufacturers include Gerber
Gerber Products Company
Gerber Products Company is a purveyor of baby food and baby products. A former American-owned company, Gerber is now a subsidiary of Nestlé, and is currently located in Fremont, Michigan, USA.-History:...

, H. J. Heinz Company
H. J. Heinz Company
The H. J. Heinz Company , commonly known as Heinz and famous for its "57 Varieties" slogan and its ketchup, is an American food company with world headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.Perhaps best known for its ketchup, the H.J...

, Nestle
Nestlé S.A. is the world's largest food and nutrition company. Founded and headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland, Nestlé originated in a 1905 merger of the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company, established in 1867 by brothers George Page and Charles Page, and Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé, founded in 1866 by Henri...

, Nutricia and Organix
-External links:* at Discogs...

. Some commercial baby foods have been criticized for their contents and cost. The demand from parents for organic food
Organic food
Organic foods are foods that are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, do not contain genetically modified organisms, and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.For the...

 began to grow in the 1960s; since then, many larger commercial manufacturers have introduced organic lines of infant food.

In China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and other east Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

n countries, homemade baby food remains common, and babies are started on rice porridge called xifan
Rice congee
Congee is a type of rice porridge popular in many Asian countries. It can be eaten alone or served with a side dish. Names for congee are as varied as the style of its preparation...

, then move on to mashed fruits, soft vegetables, tofu
is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. It is part of East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and others. There are many different varieties of tofu, including fresh tofu and tofu...

 and fish. In Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, it is common to start with mashed fruit, such as bananas, as well as oatmeal and mashed vegetables. In western Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 porridge is often the first solid food given to young children.

In numerous cultures around the world, the food is sometimes pre-chewed
Premastication or pre-chewing is the act of chewing food for the purpose of physically breaking it down in order to feed another that is incapable of masticating the food by themselves. This is often done by the mother or relatives of a baby to produce baby food capable of being consumed by the...

 by the caretaker of the baby in order to pulverise the food and start the digestion process.

An infant's first bite of solid food is ceremonial and holds religious importance in many cultures. An example of this is annaprashan
The Annaprashana, also known as annaprashana vidhi, annaprasan, or Anna-prasanam is a Hindu rite-of-passage ritual that marks an infant's first intake of food other than milk. The term annaprashan literally means "food feeding" or "eating of food"...

, a Hindu ritual where the infant is fed a sweetened rice porridge, usually blessed, by an elder family member. Similar rites of passage are practiced across Asia, including the Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 region, Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, and Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...


See also

  • Breastfeeding
    Breastfeeding is the feeding of an infant or young child with breast milk directly from female human breasts rather than from a baby bottle or other container. Babies have a sucking reflex that enables them to suck and swallow milk. It is recommended that mothers breastfeed for six months or...

  • Infant Formula
    Infant formula
    Infant formula is a manufactured food designed and marketed for feeding to babies and infants under 12 months of age, usually prepared for bottle-feeding or cup-feeding from powder or liquid . The U.S...

  • International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes
    International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes
    The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is an international health policy framework for breastfeeding promotion adopted by the World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization in 1981...

  • Nestlé boycott
    Nestlé boycott
    The Nestlé boycott is a boycott launched on July 7, 1977, in the United States against the Swiss-based Nestlé corporation. It spread quickly throughout the United States, and expanded into Europe in the early 1980s. In Canada, the controversy lasted from 1978 to 1984...

  • Organic Baby Products

External links

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