child development

When Can Babies Start Eating Solid Food?

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There are so many developmental milestones in the first year of your baby’s life. Sitting up, rolling over, talking, crawling, walking – these are huge! One of the best milestones is when babies start eating solid foods. First of all, it’s certainly one of the cutest and most fun (not to mention messiest!). Transitioning away from formula and breast milk means your little baby is growing up. It can also bring a sign of relief, that the end is in sight for bottles and pumping! But knowing when to start your baby on solids is hugely important. You want to make sure they’re physically ready! So when can babies start eating solid food?

Breast milk and/or formula is all your baby needs for the first 4-6 months of their life.

They provide all the nutrition, vitamins, and nutrients a developing baby needs! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. Introducing solids too early can lead to health problems later in life, and put babies at a higher risk of obesity. Additionally, babies who are too young may not have the coordination to swallow safely.

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Before starting your baby on solid food, you want to make sure that they have enough coordination and head and neck control. Is your baby sitting up with support? Can they hold their head upright? Does your baby attempt to put their fingers in their mouth? These are all important aspects of being able to begin solid foods.

So when can babies start eating solid food?

It’s recommended that you start solids between 4-6 months of age. At that age, babies typically stop pushing food out of their mouth with their tongue, and have enough control to move solid food to the back of their mouth. They should be able to sit up in a high-chair or other supportive seat. Other signs that your baby is ready for solids include an interest in what you’re eating, and a healthy weight (should be closer to double their birth weight!).

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Once you’ve established that your baby is ready for solid foods, start simple! Single-ingredient purees that don’t contain salt or added sugars are a great first food. Make sure to wait a few days between introducing new foods to watch for any kind of reaction.

You can also offer simple baby cereals mixed with breast milk or formula. Choose a single-grain, iron-fortified cereal, and keep it on the watery side initially. You can gradually reduce the amount of liquid and increase the amount of cereal as their swallowing reflex gets stronger. Avoid cow’s milk and honey for the first year, and make sure that the foods you’re offering your baby are pureed or mashed to prevent choking.

Starting solids is a such a big milestone! Every baby is different and will hit that milestone at their own time. So when can babies start eating solid food? Use these guidelines to determine if your own baby is ready.

(Image: iStock / LSOphoto)

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