A friend 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. When should I start? – Taylor
The best time to introduce solid foods is when your baby has developed the skills
needed to eat. Doctors recommend that breastfeeding
moms wait until their baby is 6 months old.
But sometimes babies are ready for solids sooner than that. How will you know?
To eat, babies need good head and neck control and should be able to sit up in a high
chair. This 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 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.
Other signs that babies are ready to eat solids foods:
They're interested in foods. For example, they may watch others eat, reach for
food, and open their mouths when food approaches.
They have the oral motor skills needed to move food to the throat and swallow
They usually weigh twice their birth weight, or close to it.
Wait until your baby is at least 4 months old and shows these signs of readiness
before starting solids. Babies who start solid foods before 4 months are at a higher
risk for obesity and other
problems later on. They also aren't coordinated enough to safely swallow solid foods
and may choke on the food or inhale
it into their lungs.
How Should I Start Solids?
When the time is right, start with a single-grain, iron-fortified baby cereal.
Rice cereal has traditionally been the first food for babies, but you can start with
any you prefer. Start with 1 or 2 tablespoons of cereal mixed with breast milk, formula,
Another good first option is an iron-rich puréed meat. Feed your baby with
a small baby spoon, and never add cereal to a baby's bottle unless your doctor recommends
At this stage, solids should be fed after a nursing session, not before. That way,
your baby fills up on breast milk, which should be your baby's main source of nutrition
until age 1.
When your baby gets the hang of eating the first food, introduce others, such as
puréed fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, or yogurt. Wait a few days between
introducing new foods to make sure your baby doesn't have an allergic
Experts recommend introducing common food allergens to babies when they're 4–6
months old. This includes babies with a family history of food
allergies. In the past, they thought that babies should not get such foods (like
and fish) until after the first
birthday. But recent studies suggest that waiting that long could make a baby more
likely to develop food allergies.
Offer these foods to your baby as soon as your little one starts eating solids.
Make sure they're served in forms that your baby can easily swallow. You can try a
small amount of peanut butter mixed into fruit purée or yogurt, for example,
or soft scrambled eggs.
Fruit juices are not recommended
for babies. Juice offers no health benefits, even to older babies. Juice can fill
them up (leaving little room for more nutritious foods), promote obesity, cause diarrhea, and even put a baby at risk
for cavities when teeth
start coming in.