Introduce complementary food: this is how you do it right

Beikost einführen: So machst du es richtig

Having a child also means taking on a lot of responsibility. Child nutrition is one of these. Nutrition is essential for the child. Complementary food is a big part of a baby's diet and every parent at some point faces the problem of complementary food. Changing a child's diet often causes problems.

What is complementary food and how do I introduce complementary food? We have put together an article that aims to clear up the problems surrounding solid food. He is at your side with advice and action. Below you will find all the information you may need on this topic. (1)

the essentials in brief

  • Complementary food is important for the development of the child. Through the supplementary food, it changes its eating habits and can develop further. Nutrition experts recommend starting solid foods gradually by replacing meals. (1)
  • The use of supplementary food is individual. Every child is different and has their own developmental progress. But there is a time frame that you can use as a guide if you want to. Most begin to increase the amount of complementary food when they are four months old. (2)
  • Complementary feeding is the simple transition from liquid foods, such as breast milk, to somewhat solid foods, such as porridge. The type of porridge is arbitrary. Depending on your own preference and that of the baby, you can freely choose the type of porridge. But many start with mashed carrots. (2)

Definition: What is complementary food?

In the first months of life, your child prefers breast milk, either from a bottle or directly from the breast. At a certain point, the child needs more than breast milk to be satisfied. This is where the complementary food comes into play. It is the transition from the rather liquid milk food to a mushy, mush-like food with a subsequent transition to eating at the family table.

Complementary food also means reducing the water content of the child. This happens through the mushy foods, as they have more complex carbohydrates and also have more fiber.

Porridge with berry

When one speaks of solid food, a porridge is usually meant. This should represent the transition to solid food for babies. The type of porridge is secondary at first, it is important for the child to get used to it. (Image Source: bubithebear / Pixaby)

All foods that are solid, liquid or something in between are called complementary foods. The exceptions here are breast milk, initial milk and follow-on milk that you want to wean your child off of. From then on, you should feed your child a more balanced and varied diet with, for example, porridge made from vegetables, grains or fruit.

The start of complementary feeding is individual. Of course, there is a certain amount of time when you should start complementary feeding, but it also depends on your child's development. The best thing to do is talk to the pediatrician and discuss the issue with him again. (3)

Background: What you should know about the introduction of complementary foods

Complementary food is not without. As a parent, the topic of solid food is a tough test. Many parents despair because they have not properly informed themselves about the topic. We have answered the most frequently asked questions on this topic for you below.

Why do I have to introduce complementary foods at all?

There comes a time when it becomes apparent that your child needs solid food. Some of the signs are holding up the head independently or sitting with help. When these signs appear, you should start introducing complementary foods to your child. This is because of the nutrients. A child at that young age grows very quickly and therefore needs a lot of nutrients.

At a certain point in time, the nutrients in breast milk are no longer sufficient. Iron, zinc, and protein are important nutrients that are found in breast milk and these become scarce as the child needs more and more of it, but breast milk can no longer provide it. Now it is important that complementary feeding is introduced so that your child gets the nutrients it needs. (6)

What can I introduce complementary foods with?

The best way to introduce complementary food is to take small steps. Start by replacing one meal instead of giving your child breast milk in the afternoon, feed your child formula. Preferably it should be mashed vegetables. Carrot is a very popular way to start complementary foods. Midday is the best time, as most children have slept well from their afternoon nap and feel hungry from the morning.

Beikost is called complementary food because it is introduced on the side - not instead of food.

But don't be sad if it takes several attempts to get your child used to solids. A few spoonfuls of porridge a day are enough to get you through the first few days. The next step would be to skip another meal and replace it with mush. The evening is preferred here. (10)

When should I start introducing complementary foods?

From the fourth month of the child's life, parents can observe how the child's interest in food grows more and more. Be it the process of eating, i.e. the movements and the cutlery, such as forks or spoons, are examined when the food is increased.

By the sixth month, infants have learned how to swallow food and when to refuse food simply by keeping their mouth closed. They begin to realize that they are in control of their bodies.

This is also noticeable in the way they eat, before the sixth month of life they suck around the food in order to swallow it. Now they have the ability to push the porridge backwards with their tongues and swallow it.

That's why the fifth month is the perfect time to start complementary feeding, when your toddler can already sit up on his own. As a parent, you can try whether your child can and wants to eat vegetable puree. (5)

How long should I introduce complementary foods?

In the following we will explain to you how and when you can introduce what into complementary food. To make it clear, you can simply take a look at the following table. (2)

time food
Beginning in the 5th month at the earliest, 7th month at the latest for lunch gradually serve porridge and finely chopped vegetables
after a month if porridge and vegetables are accepted for lunch, there is a milk-cereal porridge in the evening
after another month in the afternoon, a cereal-fruit porridge is added to the other supplementary food
towards the end of the first year Transition to solid food

What do I do if my child refuses complementary food?

Children have their own mind and like to do whatever they want. Especially children up to the age of two, who are not yet able to articulate themselves properly, tend to cause problems unconsciously. This is no different when introducing complementary foods. A child who is four months old and has already become accustomed to feeding milk naturally has a hard time with suddenly being given something else.

Even if the "other" is only administered with a meal for the first time. That's why you shouldn't worry if your child doesn't want to eat the first complementary food. This is where patience and confidence count. Your child does not have to eat the entire portion of the porridge. In the beginning, three to five spoons are sufficient. (4)

When do I introduce supplementary food if there is a risk of allergies?

If your child has an allergy risk, you don't have to worry at first. You can still introduce complementary food to your child. In any case, you should make sure that you only introduce complementary food after the end of the fifth month. Breast milk contains many healthy nutrients that your child needs more than others. These can help immensely with the increased risk of allergies .

different types of vegetables

You can easily make porridge for the complementary food with different types of vegetables and fruit. (Image source: congerdesign / Pixabay)

After that, the introduction of complementary food is slower than in other children. It is recommended to introduce only one porridge per month and then leave it at that for the time being. Be it store-bought or homemade porridge, you should always pay attention to the nutritional values ​​so that you don't overwhelm your child. Gradually, you can get your child used to complementary food over the long term. (7)

Introduce supplementary food: You should pay attention to this with the individual foods

By this point in time, the first and important questions on the subject of supplementary food have been clarified and problems on this subject have been solved for the time being. Now let's move on to some more detailed questions. You can find out which complementary foods you can give your child and which you should rather avoid in the following section of the article.

As you can already see from the previous passages, solid food is mainly porridge. Which foods and nutrients belong in this porridge and what you should not use is listed below.


When it comes to supplementary food, it is recommended to alternate the types of porridge that you give your child. The child can get used to the different tastes. It is important to look at the label when buying ready-made products, but also for homemade porridge.

Products with food ingredients should definitely be preferred as it is best for the child's digestion. (9)

Not suitable

First of all, you should avoid spices in your complementary food. These include salt, sugar, honey and, above all, hot spices. The child cannot digest this at the time and it can lead to stomach cramps.

When it comes to supplementary food, you should also make sure that you avoid meat. Many like to add sausage to the porridge, but that overwhelms the child's stomach just as much as the spices. (8th)


In this article, the problems around the topic of introducing solid food should be clarified. There are many important questions on the subject. On the one hand, what complementary food is or when to start with it. On the other hand, there are also some problems: What kind of complementary food should I give my child and what should I do if there is an increased risk of allergies?

These questions should be answered after reading this article and you can start introducing complementary foods to your child with a clear conscience. The article can serve you further as support and advice for this approach.


  1. Introduce complementary food: When is my baby ready for porridge? B. Schuett & J. Meul Source
  2. Overview: How to introduce complementary food S Becker & J Shoulders 10/23/2020 Source
  3. What does supplementary food even mean? Source
  4. complementary food Source
  5. Complementary food Federal Institute for Risk Assessment Source
  6. Introduce complementary food Working group of free breastfeeding groups Source
  7. Feeding the baby with an increased risk of allergies 04/09/2019 source
  8. Foods unsuitable for babies Source
  9. Sequence and selection of supplementary food 07/03/2017 Source
  10. Introduce complementary food, that's how it works! A. Koehle 08/17/2018 Source
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1 comment

Super interessanter Artikel zum Thema Beikost! Es ist wichtig zu wissen, dass Beikost ein wichtiger Teil der Ernährung eines Babys ist und zur Entwicklung beiträgt. Es ist gut zu sehen, dass die Empfehlung besteht, Beikost allmählich einzuführen und Mahlzeiten schrittweise zu ersetzen. Es gibt auch einige Tipps zur Einführung von Beikost, wie das Anfangen mit Karottenbrei. Ich frage mich jedoch, wie man mit einem möglichen Allergierisiko umgeht. Vielen Dank für die hilfreichen Informationen!


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