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Nicole Meadow, MPN, RD, nutritionist

When To Start Solid Foods

Excited to feed baby solids? Here's how to tell if it's time for that first taste test.

Introducing solids is a very exciting time for both you and baby. Sometimes it is more exciting for the parents—getting caught up in the moment of the cute spoons and bowls and other fancy gadgets! Introducing solids can be a very pleasurable experience for baby but it can also be quite scary, if baby is not developmentally ready. It is very important to start feeding baby solid foods when he or she is developmentally ready—go by what he or she can do and not by how old he or she is.

Typically, baby will start giving you signs that he or she is ready for solid foods around six months of age. At this time he or she will be able to play an active part in the feeding process. Here are some general indicators that baby is developmentally ready to start tasting the delicious world around them:

  • He or she is sitting up (either assisted or unassisted) and holding his or her head up straight

  • He or she opens his or her mouth for a spoon and closes his or her lips over it

  • He or she is able to let you know that he or she is either full or hungry (turns head away from spoon if full or keeps mouth open if still hungry). This is important so that baby learns to self regulate the amount of food that he or she eats.

  • He or she keeps his or her tongue low and flat when you put the spoon in his or her mouth

  • He or she is showing an interest in food that others around him or her are eating

In addition, when a baby approaches six months of age, the enzymes in their digestive track are becoming mature enough to break down and digest solid foods. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, six months can be an important time for baby's nutritional needs. A baby may need additional iron that can be extracted from the nutrients in various solid foods, like the iron-fortified cereals. Make sure to wait at least two to three days in between new foods for signs/symptoms of any allergies. Remember, breastfeeding or formula feeding should remain the main source of nutrition throughout the majority of the first year.

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