When you’re about to feed your baby solid food for the first time, it’s important to be familiar with the most recent official recommendations from groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). But it’s even more critical to know your child and to be flexible when it comes to the timing and choice of solid food.
When to Start
The formal guidelines by the AAP and WHO recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Starting solids before four months has been related to increased risk of obesity and future food allergies, while delaying solids beyond six months may lead to a deficit of certain nutrients in the diet, such as Iron and zinc in breastfed babies, and delays in oral-motor function. We recommend starting solids between four and six months of age and closer to six months if possible.
When determining whether it is time to start the solid food adventure, be guided by your baby’s eating skills and body control. Here are some of the signs that your baby may be ready for solids:
- Your baby sits up with support. Not all babies can sit unsupported at six months. A couple of cushions on both sides of the high chair may help them be more comfortable. But if your baby is still not able to sit straight, consider waiting a week or two.
- Your baby has neck and head control and can hold them still.
- Your baby gives you cues. Are they interested in the food you are eating? Trying to grab your spoon?
- Your baby can close their lips over a spoon.
- Your baby loses the thrust instinct and their tongue no longer pushes out food from their mouth.
- Your baby keeps food in their mouth and swallows it.