Introducing solid foods to your little one might sound exciting, but is he (or she) ready for it?
Experts say that solid foods can be introduced to babies any time around 4 to 6 months. Babies who are introduced to solids too early have the risk of digestive problems or food allergies. Furthermore, if solid food completely replaces breast milk or formula too quickly, your baby is at risk of becoming malnourished.
So how can you tell when your baby is ready for solid food? Here are some signs to look out for:
- Head control. Babies need to be able to sit and hold their heads steady by themselves.
- Sitting well when supported. Your baby has to be able to sit upright to swallow well.
- Significant weight gain. Your baby might be ready for solid foods if he’s doubled his birth weight has doubled.
- Interest in food. Your baby may begin to take interest in the food you eat.
- Has the ability to let you know when full. Look for signs such as turning away from the bottle or breast. This is important so that baby is able to have some say in the process and can communicate if and when they’ve had enough.
- Growing appetite. Your baby feels hungry even after six to eight servings of milk!
- Understand the dynamics of their mouth, lips and tongue. Your baby’s mouth and tongue develop in sync with the digestive system. To start solids, baby open their mouth when food is offered and should be able to move food to the back of the mouth and swallow.
- Loss of the tongue-thrust reflex. To keep solid food in his mouth and then swallow it, your baby needs to stop using his tongue to push food out of his mouth. Also a baby needs to know how to use their tongue to keep themselves from choking.
If you think your baby is ready, you can start with any pureed single-ingredient food (i.e. sweet potatoes, squash, apple sauce, bananas, and peaches) with no added salt or sugar. While traditional first foods don’t typically cause allergic reactions, be sure to observe your baby for signs of allergy.