Starting Solids: 5 True Signs That Your Baby Is Ready For Solids
Updated: 7 days ago
Is your baby 4-6 months old and you have been wondering if it is time to start offering them something besides breast milk/formula? Or maybe friends or family members have been asking you, “When are you going to start giving solids to your baby?”
DISCLAIMER: Each child has their own development timeline and specific needs. The content below is general information and for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional one-on-one advice. You are responsible for supervising your child’s health and for evaluating the appropriateness of the information below for your child. Please consult your healthcare provider regarding support or advice for your child's well being and health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
I know you probably feel like you just got in a good routine with milk feeding, and the idea of changing things again can be quite stressful. And you are not alone. Many parents worry about when and how to introduce solid foods to their baby’s diet. I also know that there is a lot of mixed information out there about this topic. And it can be really confusing to know when you should start giving your baby something more than milk. That is why I want to spend some time discussing this topic with you and help you feel pretty confident about when to start solids with your baby.
Babies are seen as developmentally ready for solid foods when they meet a number of key milestones that are all generally met around 4-6 months of age. These milestones don’t just apply if you are thinking about going down the baby-led weaning route, but for giving all solids.
So, here are 5 TRUE readiness signs for solids that can help you decide when it’s time to take those taste buds to the next level…
1. Your Baby Is Around 6 Months of Age or Older (Premature infants should go by adjusted age, not actual)
That's the first must when it comes to starting solids, since this is when a baby's tiny tummy has developed the enzymes it needs to break down solid food. Most babies will become developmentally and physiologically ready to eat solid foods between 6 and 8 months of age.
Health experts and breastfeeding experts agree that it’s best to wait until your baby is around 6 months old before offering solid foods. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, and many other health organizations (see list below) recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed (no cereal, juice or other foods) for the first 6 months of life.
There are several benefits to waiting until closer to 6 months to start solids: Research shows that babies who are breastfed exclusively until 6 months may have a lower risk of allergies, diabetes and obesity. Also, waiting can avoid early reduction in milk/formula intake, which will help maintain the baby's weight where it should be. No matter how old your baby is, always consult your pediatrician before introducing solid foods to your child.
Following are just a few of the organizations that recommend that all babies be exclusively breastfed or formula fed (no cereal, juice or any other foods) for the first 6 months of life (not the first 4-6 months):
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2. Your Baby Has Good Head and Neck Control, and Is Able to Sit Up with Minimal Help
This means that your baby can sit up straight, on the floor, unassisted for at least 20-30 seconds when placed in the sitting position. Your baby shouldn't immediately fall to the sides or lean forward when placed on the floor. They don’t have to get themselves into a seated position (this skill appears around 9 months).
Sitting unassisted is important to ensure your baby will be able to focus on the food when eating, and that they will be sitting in a position that helps reduce the risk of choking.
3. Your Baby’s Tongue-Thrust Reflex Has Disappeared
This is a reflex that involuntarily pushes food and foreign objects out of an infant’s mouth to prevent choking. It will typically disappear between 4-6 months of age. If you’re concerned your child has not lost the reflex and is well past 6 months, you may want to reach out to your healthcare provider to ensure there are no underlying concerns
4. Your baby Is Able to Pick Things Up and Bring Them to Mouth
This is quite a complex skill, and it takes a good few weeks for babies to master it properly. This ensures your baby has the appropriate physical ability to bring solid foods to their mouth to eat independently. And, therefore, your baby will be developmentally ready not only to receive food, but also to participate in the process which makes the experience more enjoyable for you and your baby. ⠀
5. Your Baby Is Showing Interest in Food
If your baby can't take their eyes off you as you munch that sandwich, they’re probably excited about what you're eating. Another clue that they’re ready for real food: When a baby begins to reach or grab for food mom and dad are eating. For you to be able to see this happening you have to start including your baby in family meals, even if they are not quite 6 months. They can join mealtime just by watching what everyone else is doing, and once they are close to 6 months and showing all the readiness signs for solids, you can start feeding solids.
You can give your baby a safe start to solid foods! This on-demand workshop will provide you with the knowledge and confidence you need to wean well.
Why Are These Signs Important?
Ensuring your child is physically and developmentally ready for solid foods is very important. It can help ensure your infant receives the best nutrition for the first 6 months of life and protect them from allergies, infections, and damage to the GI tract.
They are also important because not every child will be ready for solids at exactly 6 months of age. The developmental signs of readiness help each parent to determine their own individual infant’s readiness. Waiting until your child is ready can help ensure they are willing to explore solids, they are physically able to explore solids, and they are developmentally able to chew and swallow food safely.
Move Forward with Confident and Joyful Feeding
Starting solids is one of the most exciting milestones of a baby's first year (in my opinion), but there’s no reason to rush into introducing your little one to solid foods. Before you begin supplementing the breast or bottle with a more varied diet, make sure they are really ready. Wait until your baby is about 6 months and meets all the developmental markers. Your baby has their whole life to eat, so seriously, wait!
Happy Eating & Feeding,
Looking for more resources to help you raise a healthy and happy little eater? Try our FREE FOOD LIBRARY for inspiration of first foods to offer to your baby!
As always, discuss any concerns with your pediatrician. This post and this site is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice. The materials and services provided by this site are for informational purposes only.