Starting Your Baby on Solid Foods

By Suzanne Dixon , M.D. M.P.H
December 07, 2017
3 min read

For months your baby has thrived with just breast milk or formula on the menu. Now that he's getting bigger, he seems to want more out of lunch than mere milk. When is the best time, and what are the best ways, to introduce solid foods to your infant?

What's in this article:

Feeding Roles Solid Signals Reactions to Food Feeding Basics

Feeding Roles

As you begin this new stage, it's important to understand the roles you each need to play so that he grows well and develops life-long healthy eating habits. Remember:

  • You're in charge of making healthy, appropriate food available to your child in a way he can handle.
  • Your child is in charge of what, when, and how much he eats.
  • He's both the learner and the explorer: you are the supportive, reassuring facilitator.

Solid Signals

The newest recommendations are to introduce solids when your baby is about 4 to 6 months old. Breast milk or formula should continue to be your baby's primary food until he is 1 year old, or longer if you wish.

Your baby may be ready for solids when he:

  • Has doubled his birth weight and weighs at least 13 pounds.
  • Makes mouthing movements as he watches other people eat.
  • Is still hungry after eating a good amount of breast milk or formula.
  • Doesn't push his tongue out at a spoon when you try to feed him.
  • Pulls in his lower lip for food instead of sticking it out.
  • Holds his head up on his own.
  • Sits upright easily with some support.
  • Follows food with his eyes.
  • Closes his lips over food.

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Reactions to Food

Introduce new foods one at a time to see whether your baby has an allergic reaction or is sensitive to a particular food. Food reactions usually show up as rashes on the face or in the diaper area, by spitting up, or by loose stools. Babies don't need the sugar or the salt that adults eat, so don't add them to your child's food, even though it may taste bland to you.

Feeding Basics

Always start with solids on a spoon. Never put solids in a bottle.

  • Hold your baby in your lap when you start out. Be sure her head and neck are upright.
  • Talk quietly. She needs to concentrate when she's starting out.
  • Hold the filled spoon in front of your baby and wait until she opens up. Put a little food on her lip to tempt her if her mouth stays closed.
  • Wait for her to pay attention to the spoon before you put it in her mouth.
  • Stop when she shuts her mouth, turns away, or arches.
  • Let her touch her food. It's her way of finding out about it.
  • Watch your own facial expression. If you frown as you present pureed peas, your baby will wonder why she's getting that green stuff.
  • Breast milk and formula are still important, but give your baby solids first at mealtime to encourage her to accept new foods.

By Suzanne Dixon , M.D. M.P.H
Suzanne Dixon , M.D. M.P.H

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