As new parents, it can feel overwhelming when we transition from milk feedings, either breastfeeding or formula-feeding, to adding solid foods. When is baby ready for that first bite of solids?
Just like pregnancy and breastfeeding, it’s not always as simple as we think it would be. With so much information out there and ever-changing guidelines, it can be very confusing. In recent past, the recommendation to introduce solids was at four to six months. However, the most recent guidelines from the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest starting an infant on solid foods at six months of age (instead of four to six months). These recommendations are made to ensure the introduction of high-iron and energy foods to support growth and development in addition to being at a time the infant is considered old enough to handle solids, both orally and digestively.
Adding complementary foods, or foods of the family, in addition to milk feedings happens generally around six months of age. You may feel your little one is ready at five and half months whereas the baby next door isn’t ready until seven months. If an infant is born early, it’s possible he or she may need a little more time to develop the skills needed. On the flip side, you may have a baby that was delivered at full-term that could be ready to start solids right at six months of age, or a tad bit earlier. The bottom line is that every child (and family) is different so the right time, is on their time. Age is a very useful benchmark but developmental readiness is the key.
How to determine if baby is ready for solids
Asking yourself these key questions about your little one’s developmental skills are a good way to know if he or she is ready for the family table:
- Can baby sit up independently with head and neck control? You may notice that your little one’s been playing with a little less assistance from you to hold him or her up.
- Is there an absence of baby’s tongue-thrust (pushing objects out of the mouth)? Baby maybe holding objects in his or her mouth longer with more interest and less of the drooling push out.
- Can baby hold objects, like smaller toys, in his or her hand with more hand control? Your little one may be holding onto those rattles a little tighter and shaking them more on purpose!
- Does baby like to put toys and other safe objects in his or her mouth while playing and exploring? Baby is enjoying mouthing every toy or remote control in sight!
- Is baby showing interest in table foods or possibly reaching for foods you’re eating? Baby could be interested in food far before other developmental milestones have been reached. Let baby embark on eating when his or her skills match their interest level.
If you answered “yes” to all of these questions and your baby is around six months of age, it’s likely your little one is ready for that first bite. If you’re not sure if your baby is hitting the milestones or not, make sure to check in with your pediatrician. Bon appetit!
This is very useful information that really helped me. Could you please tell me about complementary food guidelines?
What does ‘sitting independently’ mean?
My little one has great head and neck strength, sits up while being held on my lap, though is not sitting up without help or support.