Foods for infants and young children
Tasting portions at the age of 4-6 months
The baby's intestines mature gradually after birth and are not ready to handle new foods until at the age of four months, at the earliest. For exclusively breastfed infants, the introduction of solids at 4–6 months of age along with breast milk supports the maturing of the intestines and the development of tolerance to new foods. *
If an infant after four months of age needs other food in addition to breast milk, it is better to start solids than to transfer to an infant formula, in order not to cause lactation to stop and to ensure that partial breastfeeding is continued. For infants fed exclusively on formula, solid supplementing foods are started at about the age of 4 months, depending on how ready the individual baby is to eat solids.
The baby is introduced to solid foods in small amounts at a time. The introduction to foods is started by first feeding the baby on breast milk or formula and then offering them tasting portions. New tasting portions can easily be made from the family's normal food before salt and spices are added. * Jarred baby foods provide an easy and safe alternative to home cooked food.
Suitable first foods include mild basic flavours, for example boiled potatoes and vegetables, berries, fruit and hot cereals. Solid foods can be liquefied into loose purees by adding water or breast milk in them. From the very beginning, infants should be offered a variety of new foods.*
Jarred baby foods
In food laws, baby foods refer to industrially produced baby foods particularly designed to complement the diet and the nutritional requirements of children under three years of age. Jarred baby foods include e.g. baby porridges and gruels, fruit and berry purees, vegetable purees, and meat/fish purees.
There are product-specific individual regulations regarding them, providing for the nutrient content of the products, for example. The purity requirements laid down for the raw materials used in the manufacture of commercial baby foods are also stricter than those applied to the raw materials or ordinary foods.
It is important to bear in mind that although in everyday speech all foods intended for children are easily considered to be baby foods, many of the products are not included in baby foods from the legislative point of view. Such foods can include e.g. yoghurts, milk-based drinks and juicy drinks, puddings, biscuits and breakfast products primarily marketed for children. There are no provisions for their nutrient content in the legislation. The quality and purity criteria applied to the raw materials used in their manufacture do not differ from ordinary products either.
Evira's website provides information about applicable legislation, as well as about requirements for composition and labelling and general safety aspects regarding baby foods. Information related to breast feeding and children's nutrition can be found on the website of the National Institute for Health and Welfare (Finland). The website of the National Nutrition Council provides information about nutrition recommendations.