What should a seven-month-old baby eat?

The Pediatric Insider

© 2014 Roy Benaroch, MD

Naomi wrote, “I’d like to start letting my 7 month old try some of the foods we’re eating during dinner. He always sits at the table with us and seems fascinated by what we’re putting in our mouths. It seems like most baby books say not to give babies anything with added salt, however, and cooking for adults without salt would ruin dinner. My question: if we’re only talking about home made food, is a little salt really so bad for a baby that’s eating solids? And if it is, at what age can he start eating table foods? I get that the salt levels in processed foods might be too high, but I’ve always thought home made food had much less.”

Listen to your baby—he’s fascinated by what you’re eating, and wants to try it. As long as the food isn’t a choking hazard, let him enjoy!

We think of “traditional” baby food as the stuff in boxes and little jars and little plastic tubs. Cereal, pureed veggies, pureed fruits—single-ingredient, bland, with minimal salt and other stuff. Of course, this is hardly “traditional” at all. It’s just what the baby food companies have been selling in the developed world for the last 100 years or so. “Traditionally,” once babies started weaning, they ate whatever everyone else ate.

There are a few different reasons why some have recommended sticking with “baby food” for toddler-aged kids. None of them are really very good reasons—and in fact, moving towards “real food” as soon as practical is better for everyone involved.

Naomi asked specifically about added salt. The thinking goes: many of us consume too much salt, which has been linked to hypertension in some genetically-predisposed individuals. So why get Junior used to the taste of salt too early? Won’t that cause him to crave salt later? But there’s no evidence whatsoever that more or less salt at seven months is going to make any difference. Later on, he’ll get used to the kind of meals eaten by everyone else, salted or low salt. There’s no critical window for deciding how salty someone likes their food.

There are also concerns that the early introduction of a mix of foods to youngish babies might increase their risk of food allergies. The truth is the opposite. There’s no evidence that waiting until later than four to six months of life increases the risk of allergy to any foods—not peanuts, not eggs, not fish. Those and any other foods can safely be introduced starting within the usual four to six month window. In fact, there’s some evidence that this earlier introduction can make food allergies less common.

The only significant health concern I have about early “real food” is whether it could be a choking hazard. Early foods should be a mashed-up or pureed consistency that can easily be eaten without teeth. Once Junior can pick up a morsel with his hands, start with soft little bits (about the size of the last part of his thumb, past the knuckle.) It’s messy, it’s fun, and it’s the best way for Junior to learn about textures and flavors. Eat as a family, and eat the same things. Yum!

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4 Comments on “What should a seven-month-old baby eat?”

  1. Erin Says:

    Thank you for this post! I have been looking for an answer to this exact question for a few months with no luck.

    Like

  2. emby Says:

    Thanks for this! It concurs with what my pediatrician recommended, and it’s always nice to see something of a consensus.

    Like

  3. Naomi Says:

    Thanks for the reply! That’s pretty much what we figured but you spend enough time reading baby books and blogs and it starts to feel like using common sense will cause irreparable harm to your child. Where did the modern ideas about feeding babies come from? Is it really just the baby food companies?

    Like

  4. Ceridwen Says:

    Love this! After a fair amount of deliberation, this is what we did with our daughter and it’s going great so far. We introduced purees at 4.5 months, then progressed to tiny bits of real food shortly after 6 months when she made it clear she had little interest in purees when the stuff we were eating looked way better.

    She hasn’t hit the picky stage yet (she’s 11 months now), and I’m sure it’s coming, but I figure it can’t hurt to expose her to a lot of tastes and textures before she gets there.

    Like


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