FAQs about WIC Foods - Minnesota Department of Health

FAQs about WIC Foods


MN WIC Program

On this page:
Fruits & Vegetables
Whole Grains
Cereals
Milk, Cheese & Yogurt
Eggs
Beans, Peas & Lentils
Peanut Butter
Juice
Soy Beverages
Tofu
Canned Fish
Infant Cereal
Infant Foods

Fruits & Vegetables

What nutrients do fruits and vegetables provide?

Fruits and vegetables are rich in many important vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin C, folate and potassium. Plus, most fruits and vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber!

 

What are the health benefits from eating fruits and vegetables?

Fruits and Vegetables can help prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer.

 

How many fruits and vegetables do women and children need?

The amount that you need depends on your age and level of physical activity. The following are general guidelines:

  • Children (1-4 years old) need 1 - 1 and 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • Women need 2 cup of fruits and 3 cups of vegetables daily

* * * * *

  • 1 cup of fruit = 1 cup fruit or fruit juice or 1/2 cup dried fruit
  • 1 cup of vegetables = 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables or 2 cups raw leafy greens

 

What are some way to eat more fruits and vegetables?

Here are some simple ideas:

  • Add raisins, berries, bananas or other fruits to cereal
  • Add green peppers, onions and other vegetables to your pizza
  • Add grated carrots to tuna or chicken salad
  • Use applesauce as a dip for cut up fruit or for graham crackers
  • Color your salad with added fruit
  • Build your sandwich with lots of lettuce and tomatoes
  • Chop up left-over vegetables and add to quesadillas
  • Grill sliced veggies. Brush veggies with canola oil and grill for only a couple of minutes on each side over medium heat.
  • Toss tomatoes, carrots, peas and corn in soups and stews
  • Top pasta with cooked vegetables

 

My kids don’t like many different types of fruits and vegetables. How can I help them to eat more fruits and vegetables?

It's normal for small children to refuse a new food. It usually takes 7 to 10 tries before a child likes a new fruit or vegetable. Here are some other ideas:

  • The kids are watching! Set a good example by eating fruits and vegetables.
  • Involve children in the selection of fruits and vegetables at the store.
  • Clean and cut up fruits and vegetables and keep them handy for children to eat as snacks. If they are cut-up and easy to access, kids will eat them!

 

How can fruits and vegetables help me manage my weight?

Fruits and vegetables are the perfect food to help you manage your weight because:

  • Most fruits and vegetables are low in calories
  • Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, which helps you feel full
  • Fruits and vegetables make a great snack replacement for unhealthy foods like chips, cookies and cakes.

 

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Whole Grains

Bi-section of whole grain showing bran, endosperm and germ

What is a whole grain?

Whole grains are just that – whole! Whole grains are the entire seed of a plant. The seed includes: the bran, the germ and endosperm. Nothing has been added or taken away. When whole grains are processed, the bran and germ are removed along with some of the fiber, protein and other important nutrients. A processed grain is called a refined grain.

 

Which foods are whole grain?

Here are some examples of whole grains (items with * are available from WIC):

  • Brown rice*
  • Barley and bulgur
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Whole cornmeal
  • Whole grain oats, oatmeal*
  • Whole grain bread*
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Whole grain tortillas*
NOTE: Some WIC cereals are also whole-grain.

 

What nutrients do whole grains provide?

Whole grains are a good source of B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and fiber.

 

What are the health benefits from eating whole grains?

Whole grains help:

  • Protect against many types of cancer and other diseases.
  • Decrease heart disease
  • Control weight
  • Keep bowel habits regular

 

How many whole grains do women and children need?

At least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains. The specific amount of whole grains that you need depends on your age and level of physical activity. The following are general guidelines:

Children (1-4 years old) need daily: 3-4 ounces of grains a day (half should be whole grains)

Women need daily: 6-11 ounces of grains a day (half would be whole grains

1 ounce of grains equals:

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 cup cooked pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked cereal

 

How do you identify whether a food is made from whole grains or refined grains?

For more information on how to identify whole grain products, go to: Identifying Whole Grain Products.

 

How can I add more whole grains to my day?

Here are some easy ways to add whole grains:

  • Make sandwiches with whole wheat bread instead of white bread. Use the whole grain bread available from WIC. If you purchase other breads, look for 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain on the package label.
  • Add brown rice to a casserole or soup in place of white rice. Regular brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice so add extra time for cooking. Instant and quick cooking brown rice are also available from WIC and cook up quickly.
  • Choose whole grain pasta. The taste of whole grain pasta is different from refined grain pasta. Add a tomato flavored sauce, such as marinara sauce to help adjust to the different flavor of the whole grain pasta.
  • Use corn or whole grain tortillas in place of flour tortillas.
  • Jazz up cooked oatmeal with chopped nuts, dried fruit and a dash of cinnamon.
  • Choose whole grain crackers for snacks. Make sure the label says whole grain. Foods labeled with words "multi-grain", "stone-ground", "cracked wheat", "seven grain", or "bran" are usually not whole-grain products.

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Cereals

What nutrients does cereal provide?

WIC-approved cereals are low in sugar and have a lot of nutrients (like vitamins and minerals) both naturally and added to them. WIC-approved cereals must have iron.

  • Iron helps carry oxygen in the blood to every part of your body; this helps you to have energy. Iron also helps protect you from infections.

NOTE: When your blood is low in iron (iron-deficiency anemia), you may feel tired and weak, catch colds and get sick more easily. Children may also have trouble growing and learning.

  • Folic Acid helps to decrease spinal birth defects during the first months of pregnancy. It has also been shown to lower your risk of heart disease.

 

Which cereals are better choices for women to eat?

While all WIC-approved cereals are healthy choices, women have a special need for folic acid during their childbearing years. The WIC-approved cereals that have 100% of your daily need for folic acid are:

  • Life (plain)
  • Malt-O-Meal Crispy Rice
  • Malt-O-Meal Frosted Mini Spooners (plain and strawberry cream)
  • Malt-O-Meal hot cereals (original and chocolate)
  • Multi-Grain Cheerios
  • Quaker Oatmeal Squares
  • Special K (plain)
  • Whole Grain Total (plain)

 

What if you don't like breakfast?

NOTE: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You need to give your body and brain a little wake-up call and breakfast is a great way to do this!

If you don't like breakfast foods, you may want to try a less traditional breakfast. Sandwiches, leftover pizza or tortillas with cheese and salsa are all good choices.

If you don't feel like eating in the morning, sometimes it's easier to drink something for breakfast like a big glass of milk or a smoothie.

If you are always too rushed in the morning and don't have time for breakfast, try to keep easy-to-go foods stocked and readily available. Yogurt, fresh fruit, raisins, dry cereal, string cheese, bagels or crackers are foods that are easy to pack up and take with you.

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Milk, Cheese & Yogurt

What nutrients does milk provide?

  • Calcium helps to keep your bones and teeth strong and hard and prevents bone disease (Osteoporosis). Calcium also helps your heart and muscles to work well and may help to prevent high blood pressure.
  • Vitamin A helps keep your eyes and skin healthy, and your bones to grow.
  • Vitamin D is added to milk. Vitamin D helps your body use the calcium it needs to build strong bones and keep them hard.

NOTE: Our bodies can make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Minnesota is so far north of the equator that it does not get direct sunlight year round. So we need to get our vitamins from food (or supplements). Milk is one of the easiest ways to do so.

  • Protein is needed for growth, development and repair of your muscles and other body tissues. It also helps fight infection and disease.

 

What are the differences between fat free skim, low-fat (1%), reduced-fat (2%), and whole milk?

The only difference is the amount of fat and calories.

NOTE: The more fat milk has, the more calories it also has.

Most of the fat in milk is in the cream. Skim milk has all of the cream removed while increasing amounts are left in 1%, 2% and whole milk.

Skim and 1% milk have the same amount of protein, calcium and vitamins A & D as whole milk.

 

How is skim milk better for adults and children over 2 than whole milk?

Most children and adults often eat more calories and fat each day than they need. Skim milk has about 1/2 the calories and none of the fat that whole milk has.

The fat in milk is saturated fat. Too much saturated fat can increase your risk for both heart disease and cancer.

1 cup or
8 oz. of Milk
Calories
Fat
Saturated Fat
Skim Milk
80 calories
0 grams
0 grams
1% Milk
100 calories
2-3 grams
1-2 grams
2% Milk
120 calories
5 grams
3 grams
Whole Milk
150 calories
8 grams
5 grams

For adults and children, three 1-cup servings of whole milk provide more than the recommended limit of saturated fat for a whole day (and that's without counting all the other foods that have saturated fat that you may eat like meat, cheese, butter and fried foods).

If you don't like the taste of skim milk, first try 2%, gradually switch to 1%, and eventually try skim.

NOTE: To help ease the change from one kind of milk to another, try mixing the two milks (like 2% and 1%) for a week before completely switching over.

 

Why shouldn't babies (under 1 year of age) drink milk?

During your baby's first year of life, the main source of fat, calories, vitamins and minerals should be breastmilk. If mom is unable to breastfeed, iron-fortified formula should be the main source.

Cow's milk and goat's milk are not the same as breastmilk or infant formula.

  • Milk does not provide all the fat, calories and nutrients (especially iron) that your baby needs in order to grow well and be healthy.
  • Milk has too much sodium for your baby.
  • The protein in milk can hurt your baby's tummy.

 

Why does WIC provide whole milk for toddlers under 2 years of age?

Toddlers (up to 2 years old) grow very fast and their brains are continuing to develop. Extra fat and calories are needed to support this growth.

Whole milk is an easy way to be assured that your toddler is getting enough to grow well.

NOTE: A toddler should only drink 2 cups of whole milk daily.

Follow your Health Care Provider's recommendations for the type of milk to serve your toddler.

 

Why should toddlers drink milk from a cup instead of a bottle?

At the age of one most children should be drinking liquids from a cup and no longer using a bottle. Milk in the bottle can cause problems because:

  • Your child's teeth can become damaged ("baby bottle tooth decay") by the constant wash of milk, which has natural sugars in it, against his teeth. This can cause problems with his adult teeth.
  • Your toddler needs a wide variety of foods and that means milk is just a small part of his diet. Children are more likely to drink too much milk if it is put in a bottle.
  • Your child may gain too much weight.
  • Your child may suffer from ear infections (especially if given at night or when napping).

 

What if milk upsets your stomach?

You may have trouble digesting the natural sugar in milk; this is called lactose intolerance. Common symptoms of lactose intolerance that can occur after drinking milk are: nausea, cramps, bloating, gas and diarrhea. Some ideas that may help you digest milk better are:

  • Drink small amounts with meals (instead of on an empty stomach). If you are able to do this without upsetting your stomach, slowly increase the amount of milk you drink over time.
  • Try Lactose-Free milk.
  • Try hard cheese, yogurt or ice cream. They have smaller amounts of lactose.

 

What if you don't like milk?

Milk is an important part of your diet because it is an excellent source of calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D. If you don't like the taste or texture of milk, try these ideas to help you include milk in your daily diet:

  • Use milk to make pudding and custards.
  • Add milk to fruit smoothies and milkshakes.
  • Cook soups and rice with milk instead of water.
  • Make hot cereal and hot cocoa mix using milk instead of water.
  • Add some chocolate or strawberry flavoring to your milk.

 

How much dairy should you eat each day?

What is a serving?

  • 1 cup (8 oz.) milk = 1 grade-school size carton of milk
  • 1 1/2 oz. of cheese = the size of 3 dominoes or a 9-volt battery
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) yogurt = the size of 2 ice cream scoops

NOTE: One serving of cheese or yogurt has just about the same amount of calcium as one cup of milk.

The number of servings of dairy foods you should eat each day depends on your age:

Children 1-5 years old need 2 servings (2 cups daily). Example for one day:

  • 1/2 cup milk with cereal at breakfast, and
  • 3/4 oz. cheese in half a grilled cheese sandwich at lunch, and
  • 1/2 cup yogurt with fruit as a mid-day snack, and
  • 1/2 cup milk in a cup at dinner.

Pregnant women 18 years old and younger need 4 servings (4 cups daily). Example for one day:

  • 1 cup milk in a fruit smoothie for breakfast, and
  • 1 carton (8 oz.) of chocolate milk at lunch, and
  • 1 1/2 oz. cheese with crackers as a mid-day snack, and
  • 1 cup yogurt with granola and fruit for dessert.

Women, including pregnant women 19 years and older, need 3 servings (3 cups daily). Example for one day:

  • 1/2 cup milk with cereal at breakfast, and
  • 1 1/2 oz. cheese on a deli sandwich at lunch, and
  • 1/2 cup yogurt with fruit as a mid-day snack, and
  • 1 cup of milk in a glass at dinner.

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Eggs

What nutrients do eggs provide?

Eggs are an excellent source of Protein, which is needed for growth, development and repair of your muscles and other body tissues. It also helps you fight infection and disease.

 

Should you limit the number of eggs you eat or serve to your family?

Eggs are high in cholesterol, so eating eggs too often can cause your family to have a diet that is high in cholesterol. Eggs can be part of a healthy diet, especially if you limit the amount of fat and cholesterol you receive from other foods. Limit high-fat foods like whole milk, cheese, processed meats and ice cream.

 

What is the best way to store eggs?

Eggs should be stored in the refrigerator as soon as possible after they are bought. Keep eggs in their carton to help protect them from absorbing odors in your refrigerator; this helps to keep the eggs fresh longer.

Store your eggs in the middle or lower shelves where the temperature is more constant.

 

How long will an egg keep?

Eggs stored in their carton on an appropriate shelf in the fridge are OK to use up to 2-3 weeks past the carton's "sell by" date.

Hard-boiled eggs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

 

Is it safe to eat raw eggs?

Eating raw eggs can put you at risk for Salmonella poisoning, a type of food poisoning. It is better to avoid foods that contain raw eggs (like cookie dough).

Be sure to wash your hands after touching raw eggs!

 

Is there a difference between white and brown eggs?

Brown and white eggs are the same; different kinds of hens lay different colored eggs. However, you cannot buy brown eggs with your WIC vouchers.

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Beans, Peas & Lentils

What nutrients do beans provide?

Iron which helps carry oxygen in the blood to every part of your body; this helps you to have energy. Iron also helps protect you from infections.

NOTE: When your blood is low in iron (iron-deficiency anemia), you may feel tired and weak, catch colds and get sick more easily. Children may also have trouble growing and learning.

Folic Acid helps to decrease spinal birth defects during the first weeks of pregnancy. It has also been shown to lower your risk of heart disease.

Protein is needed for growth, development and repair of your muscles and other body tissues. It also helps fight infection and disease.

 

How do you soak and cook dry beans?

See Cooking dry Beans

 

How do you substitute dry beans with canned beans in recipes?

In most recipes, one form of beans can be substituted for another.

  • 1 pound dry beans = 2 cups dry beans OR 6 cups cooked beans
  • Substitute one 15 - 16 oz. can of beans for every 1 1/2 cups of cooked dry beans.

 

Is it necessary to rinse canned beans before using the beans in a recipe?

Canned beans are usually higher in sodium than dry beans. Drain and rinse canned beans in a colander or strainer under cold running water before using them in recipes. This may help lower the amount of any added salt and may help remove some of their potential gas-producing properties.

 

Why do beans sometimes cause discomfort?

Beans have both fiber and complex sugars that your body has to work hard to digest. One of the by-products of the digestion process is gas. Some things that may help:

  • Soak your dry beans to help dissolve the complex sugars, making it easier for your body to digest them.
  • Discard the soaking water as frequently as possible.
  • Eat small amounts of beans over time to help your body become used to them and cause less discomfort.
  • Tip! A product called Beano® helps your body break down the complex sugars into smaller sugars that are easier to digest.

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Peanut Butter

What nutrients does peanut butter provide?

Protein is needed for growth, development and repair of your muscles and other body tissues. It also helps fight infections and disease.

Folic Acid helps to decrease spinal birth defects during the first months of pregnancy and has been shown to lower your risk of heart disease.

Peanut butter has fat in it. Try to use no more than 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (about the size of a ping-pong ball) per day.

NOTE: The American Heart Association recommends that most of the fat in your diet come from monounsaturated fat food sources like nuts and seeds and their oils.

 

Is it OK to feed peanut butter to my young child?

Peanut butter is available from WIC once a child turns one year old. Peanut butter has a lot of nutrients and makes a great snack. However, young children often swallow without chewing, and sticky foods like peanut butter can increase the risk of choking.

You may choose to wait until your child is 2 - 3 years old before giving her peanut butter.

If you want to give your young child peanut butter, the best way to make sure she is safe while eating it is:

  • Always spread it thinly on a cracker or piece of toast
  • Do not serve it alone or on a spoon
  • Always have your child sit down while eating
  • Stay with her while she eats

 

Can peanut butter cause an allergic reaction?

About 1.5 million Americans have a severe allergy to peanuts. The symptoms for peanut allergy can range from mild, like an itchy throat, to very severe, such as anaphylactic shock.

TIP: If you or your child has a peanut allergy, choose beans in your WIC food package instead of peanut butter.

 

What is "natural" peanut butter and can you buy it with your WIC vouchers?

Natural peanut butter is made from ground peanuts and usually a little bit of salt or peanut oil with no added sugar. It does not contain hydrogenated oils. This means the oil and peanuts may separate.

You can buy natural peanut butter with your WIC vouchers!

TIP: Sometimes the oil in natural peanut butter separates; just stir it together before use.

 

For what reasons are you not allowed to buy "reduced-fat" peanut butter spread with your WIC vouchers?

Reduced-fat peanut butter spreads do not meet the Standard of Identity for peanut butter, which is why they are called "spreads".

Reduced-fat peanut butter spread is often made by replacing some of the fat with corn syrup solids. Corn syrup solids are a type of sugar and add lots of calories.

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Juice

What nutrients does juice provide?

Small amounts of juice can be good for you because it has vitamin C. Vitamin C is necessary to create collagen, a protein that is essential for skin, cartilage, bones, muscle and blood vessels. It also helps fight infection, may help to decrease the risk of cancer and heart disease and helps your body to absorb iron.

 

How much juice should your baby drink each day?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies do not need any juice until they are one year old because breastmilk or formula has all the vitamin C they need for the first year of life.

Once your baby is able to drink from a small cup, he can have 2-3 ounces per day.

 

What is the best way to introduce juice to your baby?

Once your baby is able to use a cup pretty well (6 months or older), you can choose to give her 2-3 ounces daily. Put juice in a cup.

NOTE: Juice in a bottle may provide too much juice to your baby. Too much juice has been shown to cause diarrhea and may make her too full to eat other foods.

Use a cup without a lid. Cups with lids:

  • Can make is hard for you to tell how much juice your baby may be drinking.
  • Can cause tooth decay.
  • May slow down speech development.

 

How much juice should your child drink each day?

1-5 year old children can drink 4-6 ounces per day (as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics).

Tip! Whole fruits and vegetables are better choices than juice.

 

Can too much juice cause problems for your child or baby?

Juice has a lot of natural sugars that may be hard to digest. Drinking too much juice can cause:

  • Bloating
  • Stomach aches
  • Diarrhea

Babies or children who sip on juice constantly throughout the day are at risk for tooth decay and dental caries from the steady wash of juice over their teeth.

Also, children who drink too much juice may not be hungry for other foods or gain too much weight. Babies who drink too much juice may not drink enough breastmilk or formula, which has all the nutrients they need to grow well.

 

How can I get my child to drink less juice and more water?

Offer water between meals and when your child is thirsty.

  • Keep a bottle or pitcher of tap water in the fridge to keep it cool and refreshing.
  • Serve water in a child's favorite cup with a straw or in a sports bottle.
  • Set a good example and drink water. Your child will want what he sees you drink!

 

Is calcium-fortified juice a good source of calcium?

A cup of calcium-fortified juice has as much calcium in it as one cup of milk. Look for calcium-fortified juice with Vitamin D, which is needed for your body to use calcium.

Tip! Buy calcium-fortified juice if you want to supplement the amount of calcium you are already getting from dairy foods.

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Soy Beverages

What nutrients do soy-based beverage provide?

Calcium helps keep your bones and teeth strong and hard and prevents bone disease (Osteoporosis). Calcium also helps your heart and muscles work well and may help prevent high blood pressure.

Protein is needed for growth, development and repair of your muscles and other body tissues. It also helps fight infection and disease.

 

What is soy-based beverage?

It is a beverage made from dry soybeans and water.

 

Why are only certain brands of soy-based beverage allowed by WIC?

Soy-based beverage must meet the WIC federal regulations. It must be fortified with specific amounts of calcium, protein, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin and vitamin B12. The brands allowed by WIC meet these requirements.

 

What are some ways to use soy-based beverage?

Soy-based beverage is often used as an alternative to milk. Soy-based beverage can be used as a beverage or as a milk replacement in cooking.

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Tofu

What nutrients does tofu provide?

Calcium helps keep your bones and teeth strong and hard and prevents bone disease (Osteoporosis). Calcium also helps your heart and muscles work well and may help prevent high blood pressure.

Protein is needed for growth, development and repair of your muscles and other body tissues. It also helps fight infection and disease.

 

What is tofu?

Tofu is a cheese-like food. It is made by coagulating soy milk. Coagulating thickens the soy liquid into a semisolid mass. The resulting curds are pressed into blocks.

 

Why are only certain brands of tofu allowed by WIC?

WIC-allowed tofu must be calcium-set and prepared with only calcium salts. It can have no added fats, sugars, oils or sodium. The brands allowed by WIC meet these requirements.

 

What are some ways to use tofu?

Tofu has very little taste or smell on its own. It absorbs the flavors of the ingredients in the dish. Tofu can be seasoned or marinated to pick up the flavor of a dish. One easy way to use tofu – replace all or part of the meat in your next stir-fry with tofu.

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Canned Fish

What nutrients does canned fish provide?

Protein is needed for growth, development and repair of your muscles and other body tissues. It also helps fight infection and disease.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids have been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease.

 

How much tuna and salmon are safe to eat in a week?

Tuna and salmon may contain very small amounts of mercury or PCBs, which can be harmful to fetuses and children. The Minnesota Department of Health recommends children under the age of 15, pregnant women and breastfeeding women eat no more than 1 meal a week containing canned "light" tuna or 2 meals a week containing salmon.

The amount of fish you can eat in a meal depends on your body weight. Here are some guidelines. A meal is:

  • 6 oz. for a 110-pound person
  • 8 oz. for a 150-pound person
  • 10 oz. for a 190-pound person

See the MN Department of Health's Fish and Seafood >> Fish Consumption Advice for more information.

 

Why can't I buy tuna or salmon in foil packs?

Foil packs are not allowed due to the extra cost.

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Infant Cereal

How do you know if your baby is ready to start solid foods?

Usually, your baby will start showing physical signs that he is ready to start on "solid" foods around 5-6 months. Some signs to look for are:

  • Your baby is able to sit up with support.
  • She holds her head up without help.
  • He reaches for things and holds them.
  • When you feed her, she watches the food, waits with her mouth open and then closes her mouth over the foods.
NOTE: If your baby's tongue always pushes the food out of his mouth, he isn't ready for solids. This tongue action means that he can't move food around inside his mouth.

 

Why is iron-fortified cereal often recommended as the first solid food to introduce to your baby?

Introducing solids when your baby is ready helps him learn new tastes and textures. The texture of infant cereal can be easily adjusted by mixing different amounts of breastmilk or prepared iron-fortified formula in the bowl with the cereal.

When you baby first starts eating cereal, it should be mixed very thin. (Rice cereal is often introduced first because it is least likely to cause an allergic reaction.) You can increase the thickness of the cereal as your baby becomes used to eating cereal and learns how to move food around in his mouth and eat from a spoon.

 

How do you start feeding your baby iron-fortified cereal?

Learning how to do anything new takes time and patience!

  • Choose a time when your baby isn't too hungry and you are both in a good mood.
  • Put your baby in your lap or in an infant seat.
  • Mix the cereal in a bowl with breastmilk or prepared iron-fortified formula so that it is very thin.
  • Using a small spoon put the cereal up to your baby's lips. When she opens her mouth, gently put the cereal towards the back of her tongue.
  • If your baby has trouble swallowing or pushes the food out with her tongue, she may not be ready start cereal yet. Try again in a couple of weeks.

Tip! When starting any new foods, make sure to start only one new food at a time. Wait 5-7 days before starting another new foods to make sure that your baby doesn't have an allergic reaction to it. If you start more than one new food at a time, and she has an allergic reaction, you may not be able to tell which food caused it!

 

Why shouldn't cereal be put in your baby's bottle?

It is an old wives' tale that putting cereal in the bottle will help your baby sleep better at night. Babies should not go more than 4-6 hours without being fed because their stomachs are so small.

Around 6 months, your baby will be ready to eat cereal from a spoon. This is a very important learning step for your baby. Putting cereal in a bottle may prevent your baby from learning this new skill.

Cereal in the bottle can increase the risk of choking because you have to increase the size of the hole in the nipple to allow the cereal through. If too much comes through the nipple, your baby could choke. Putting cereal in the bottle may also cause you to overfeed your baby.

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Infant Foods

What nutrients do infant vegetables and fruits provide?

Infant vegetables and fruits are rich in many nutrients. Here are just a few:

  • Vitamin A keep eyes and skin healthy and helps protect against infections
  • Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy
  • Potassium helps maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body
  • Folate helps produce DNA and form healthy new cells

NOTE: The infant vegetables and fruits allowed by WIC have no added sugar or salt.

 

What nutrients does infant meat provide?

  • Iron helps carry oxygen in the blood to every part of your body; this helps you to have energy. Iron also helps protect you from infections.
  • Zinc helps form protein in the body and assists in wound healing. It plays a role in general growth and maintenance of all body tissues.

 

My baby is ready for solids. How do I start and use the infant foods?

Here are some guidelines for starting infant foods:

  • Start new foods one at a time. Wait 5 or more days to see how your baby accepts them. If a new food causes stomachache, diarrhea or skin rash, wait a month and try it again.
  • Always feed the infant foods from a spoon.
  • Your baby may take only a few spoonfuls of a vegetable or fruit the first time.
  • When you open a new jar, listen for the "pop". If it doesn't "pop", throw it out or take it back to the store.
  • Always feed infant foods from a dish. Don't feed your baby right out of the jar. Saliva will make the food spoil faster. Throw out food left in the dish after a meal.
  • Use refrigerated infant food within 2 days.
  • Remember, your baby's tastes are different than yours. His food doesn't need salt, sugar, butter, margarine or seasoning.

 

My baby is older and ready for more textured foods. What are ways to use the infant vegetables and fruits available from WIC?

  • Try the diced fruits and vegetables. An older baby can pick up the diced pieces with their fingers. The amount in the jar is a perfect snack size.
  • Mix infant fruits and vegetables with soft pieces of fruits and vegetables or other table foods.
  • Mix infant applesauce or a vegetable with finely-chopped meats to provide moisture.
  • Add infant fruits to infant cereal or cooked cereal.

 

How do I make homemade baby foods?

Most babies will need more food than is provided by WIC. Babies love to eat the same foods that the family is eating. Here are some ideas for making healthy baby foods:

  • Do not add any salt, sugar, butter, margarine, gravy or seasoning.
  • Blend or grind foods to the texture that is appropriate for your baby’s development.
  • Puree foods – offer pureed foods to an infant just learning to eat solids. Puree soft fruits, vegetables or meats.
  • Mashed foods – offer soft, mashed foods with tiny lumps when your baby can chew from side-to-side (not just up and down). Try: cooked noodles; applesauce; mashed, cooked whole peas; and mashed potatoes.
  • Ground, finely chopped foods – offer ground, finely chopped foods to your baby when he is ready. When your child picks up foods in her fingers or palms, puts food in her mouth and chews, she is ready for finger foods. Try: ground meat; soft cooked vegetables; soft ripe fruit pieces; crackers; dry cereal; canned fruit.

For specific instructions on how to prepare homemade baby foods and for recipes go to Preparing Baby Foods

 

Are there any foods that babies should not eat?

Avoid foods that can cause choking. Foods that are too large in size; shaped like a sphere or cylinder; or firm and smooth can all cause choking. Avoid the following foods:

  • Tough or large chunks of meat
  • Hot dogs, meat sticks or sausage
  • Fish with bones
  • Large chunks of cheese
  • Peanuts or other nuts or seeds
  • Peanut butter
  • Whole beans
  • Whole uncut cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Raw vegetable pieces
  • Whole uncut grapes, berries, cherries, or melon balls
  • Fruit pieces with pits or seeds
  • Popcorn
  • Potato/corn chips
  • Hard candy, jelly beans, caramels or gum drops
  • Chewing gum
  • Marshmallows

NOTE: To help prevent choking, an infant should always eat sitting straight up in a high-chair or similar chair. Infants should not eat when lying down, playing, walking, crawling or riding in the car. Be sure to watch your infant when they are eating.

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Updated Tuesday, 01-Oct-2019 11:49:59 CDT