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When Can My Baby Start Eating Solid Foods?

A friend of mine just started giving her 3-month-old applesauce and rice cereal. My son is just 2 weeks younger than hers, and I am wondering if I should be introducing solids soon, too. What do you think?
- Taylor

To eat solid foods, babies need good head and neck control and should be able to sit up in a high chair, which usually doesn't happen until they're 4 to 6 months old. Also, if you try to feed your son solids before this age, you may notice that he pushes food out of his mouth just as quickly as you put it in. Babies start to lose this natural tongue-thrusting reflex at the 4- to 6-month mark, which makes it easier for them to start eating solid foods.

And don't worry about not introducing new foods early enough. Health experts recommend breastfeeding as a baby's only source of nutrition until about 6 months. During a baby's first 6 months, water, juice, and solid foods are usually unnecessary. Up until this point, breast milk or formula provides everything babies need nutritionally.

When you begin to introduce foods to your baby, start with an iron-fortified single-grain baby cereal (such as rice or oatmeal) on a spoon before moving on to pureed fruits, vegetables, or meats. Introduce just one new food at a time and wait several days before starting another. This will give you a chance to see if your baby is allergic to the new food.

Also, it may take several tries before your son starts to enjoy a new food, so don't give up after the first or second attempt if he doesn't seem to like it.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: October 2014