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A Solid Start: Introducing Baby to Solid Foods

Everything you need to know to begin your child on baby foods and other solids.
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WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD

There’s nothing more adorable than a picture of a happy baby contentedly smearing food on his face -- and everywhere else. (Until it’s time to clean up, of course.)  Starting your baby on solid food can be fun, playful, and messy!

For some parents, introducing solid foods can also be confusing. When should you start? How much should you offer? What comes first?

Feeding baby solids doesn’t need to be a challenge. There are just a few simple rules and milestones to keep in mind to make sure your baby’s food is just right to grow on.

Baby’s First Foods: When to Introduce Solids

When today’s parents were small babies, pediatricians often recommended starting them on cereal and other solid foods at just a few weeks old. “It’ll help him sleep through the night!” parents were told.

Now we know that’s not true, and for most babies, cereal in a bottle at 6 weeks is no way to start solids. (Some babies with bad reflux may benefit from cereal in a bottle, however. Ask your pediatrician.)

Between the ages of 4 and 6 months, most babies are developmentally ready to get their first taste of solid foods. At this point, they lose the extrusion reflex that is beneficial for sucking a breast or bottle but can shove a spoonful of baby cereal right back out.

Starting Solids: How to Know When Your Baby Is Ready

Here are some signs that your child is ready to try solids:

  • She can sit up (with support) and can hold her head and neck up well.
  • Her birth weight has doubled.
  • She’s interested in what you’re eating and may even try to grab food from your plate.
  • She can keep food in her mouth rather than letting it dribble out.
  • She shows signs of being hungry for more than she’s getting by clamoring for more when her bottle is empty or wanting to nurse more often.

“The pendulum has swung back and forth a lot on when to start solids,” says Jennifer Shu, MD, a pediatrician in Atlanta and co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality and Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor, and a Bottle of Ketchup. 

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