Is Your Baby Ready for Solids?

The transition to solid baby foods is the first major transition your baby will face, and everyone has an opinion on the subject. Knowing when your baby is really ready for solids can be a bit tricky, but there are some signs to look for. There is also a great deal of misinformation regarding the transition to solid foods that can cause mothers to add solids before baby is ready. Check your knowledge and find out if your baby is ready to try!

At What Age Should Solids Be Started?

Although traditionally the answer to this question has been anywhere from 4-6 months old, the AAP now officially recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. Every baby is different, however, as you have heard on so many subjects, and there are better indications than age to determine when a baby is ready. While the 6 month mark is a good place to start, your baby might not be ready until 7 months, so don’t stress it! Eventually, your baby will get there.

What are the Physical Signs of Readiness?

There are some physical abilities your baby must master in order to be ready for solid foods. Until baby is physically ready, you won’t have much success and you risk choking. Watch for these signs your baby is good to go:

  • Able to sit up with moderate support, such as in a high chair. This means that baby isn’t just propped up in the chair, but can lean forward as well, and really only needs the chair to prevent falling over.
  • Able to hold up the head well – this should go along with sitting up, most babies who can sit up well enough to start solids have developed their neck muscles enough to hold their heads up well.
  • Losing the tongue-thrust reflex. Babies have a reflex that helps to protect them from choking by causing the tongue to push out foreign matter in the mouth. By 4 months old this reflex starts to fade, but it often isn’t gone entirely until 6 months old. This reflex will make it difficult to get baby to swallow any solid foods. Also around 6 months old, baby will start to master the ability to use the tongue to push food to the back of the mouth to be swallowed.

What Other Signs of Readiness are There?

In addition to the physical development needed to eat solid foods, there are a few other signs you can look for in your baby to tell if it’s a good time to start solids.

  • Baby shows interest in how the others at the table are eating and may reach for your food. The best way to watch for this sign is to bring baby to the table. Pull the high chair up when you are eating, so that your baby can watch what is going on and develop an interest.
  • Baby mimics your eating behaviors, such as bringing food to the mouth or opening up for a bite.
  • Baby has the ability to indicate yes or no either through gestures or simply opening or closing the mouth.

What is Not a Sign of Readiness?

There is some misinformation out there, mainly perpetuated by well-meaning friends and relatives, regarding a baby’s readiness for solids. Just because you have a large baby does not mean you need to start solids earlier. No matter your baby’s size, breast milk or formula are all that is needed for the first six months. Also contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence that starting solids earlier will help a baby sleep at night. Night wakings are not a sign of readiness.

Watch for the above signs of readiness to make sure that your transition to solids goes smoothly for everyone!

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