Starting Solid Foods
When to Start Solids for a Baby
If your child is starting to give you hints that he or she is ready for solid foods, it might be time to take some baby steps into this new world.
What are good indicators that you can look for? The first is age. Starting solid foods between four to six months of age is ideal. You don't want to start too early or too late (see the next section for reasons why).
Besides age, there are other signs of readiness. Some of these include, when he or she:
- Has good head and neck control.
- Can sit with support.
- Can push up with straight elbows from lying face-down.
- Seems unsatisfied and hungry following their usual feedings of breast milk or formula. This usually occurs at or around the same time babies begin developing their early mobility skills and are using up a lot more energy.
- No longer has a tongue-thrust reflex (extrusion reflex). This newborn reflex involves raising the tongue and pushing against any object placed between the infant's lips. It is necessary to complete the latching process when they are breastfeeding or drinking from a bottle. It will disappear on its own around four or five months of age.
The loss of the tongue-thrust reflex allows the tongue to participate in eating instead of pushing away solid foods. To safely swallow solid foods, the tongue needs to be able to transfer food from the front to the back of the mouth.
- Wants to start eating solid foods. A clue is when your baby starts putting his or her hand or toys in their mouth. What they are doing is looking for varied textures.
- Can indicate when they are hungry (by opening the mouth and leaning forward) and full (by leaning back or turning away).
When these indicators are present, it is time to start introducing solid foods.