When can my baby eat solids? Babies are ready to eat solids between 4 and 6 months of age. For most babies, we recommend waiting until 6 months to start. At this age babies have improved head control, as well as tongue and mouth coordination. Also energy needs increase at this age, making this an ideal time to introduce solids. In the beginning, solid foods do not necessarily replace a breast milk or formula feeding, they are given as an addition.
New research shows that introducing a wide variety of foods right from the start is important in food allergy prevention and helps to develop adventurous eaters. As a result, the very structured, step-wise approach of introducing solids in years past has been replaced with a more fun, liberal approach. So, if you want to puree your entire dinner and offer it to your child – please do! And if your child has good head control and you want to try Baby Led Weaning – give it a shot!
Remember, the only food you must avoid until 12 months is HONEY (can cause botulism)!
Because introducing more allergenic foods (peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy and fish) early and frequently helps reduce rates of allergies, please include small amounts of these foods in your child’s diet 2-3 times per week. If your child has a history of severe eczema, or a family history of severe allergy to any food, please discuss these recommendations with your pediatrician.
Most babies at this age will start with pureed foods. Again, anything goes (except for honey). In general, try to stay away from processed foods and aim for whole ingredients. Feed these to your baby with a spoon. Your child will let you know how much he/she wants. Follow their cues. Right from the beginning, your baby can start to have three solid meals a day.
At 6 months, introduce water in a sippy or straw cup with meals. This is more about practicing the sippy cup than drinking water, so don’t worry if your child doesn’t take to the cup right away or doesn’t drink much, it’s for practice and fun.
Watch for signs of an allergic reaction including diarrhea, rash, vomiting, swelling or breathing issues. If any of these occur, stop using the new food and notify your pediatrician.
Encourage finger foods. Your child can eat the foods that you are eating however they still will not be able to chew well so pieces should be able to dissolve in their mouth even if they pick them up. Pea sized or smaller is a good size to start with. You can also use foods that are “too big” – whole banana, whole cooked carrot, slice of bagel. Encourage your child to taste and love the different flavors and spices that you like to eat. No need to over salt the food – it’s not good for any of us.
Breast feeding may decrease to 3-5 times per day and formula intake will likely decrease from 28-32 oz per day to 16-24 oz per day.
Avoid choking hazards such as popcorn, whole nuts, whole grapes or other small hard foods until 3 years of age due to the risk of choking.
All families should have Children’s Benadryl at home. It can be used in babies and children to treat allergies. Please see our dosage sheet for correct dosages.
Remember, these are just guidelines. Follow your baby’s cues and make meals fun. You worry about the quality of the food and let them worry about the quantity. Have fun!