When Should Baby Start Solid Food?

when-should-baby-start-solid-foods

I was so excited to start solid foods with my first baby. With ingredients from our community-supported agriculture delivery, I made her baby food with love. I ordered special spoons (to help with her ergonomics) and bowls, plates, cups and storage containers.

And then guess what? She hated pureed food. Finally I tried giving her whole, soft foods she could pick up herself. She loved food! Once she could feed herself with a spoon, she also loved the special pureed food I’d make (more on both of those ideas at the end of the blog.)

As your baby ages from newborn to infant, you may wonder: when should she start solid food? The easiest answer is AFTER six months old, but why?

There’s nothing magical about the day she turns six months old! You’ll want to look for these signs in your baby. Ideally, she has all of these benchmarks.

  1. She can sit well unassisted. Not only is this safer for preventing the risk of aspiration, this milestone can help with digestion.
  2. She has lost the tongue-thrust reflex. Babies have a newborn reflex to help protect them from objects going into their mouths – it causes them to thrust the item back out with their tongue. 
  3. She is at least six months old. Every major medical association, including the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding until baby is at least six months old – and this includes foods like baby cereals, juices and water. 
  4. She has developed the pincer grasp. This means she can pick objects up with her thumb and index finger.
  5. She has an interest in foods. 

Why delay solid foods until your baby is ready?

First, we want to make sure that she gets all of the wonderful nutrition of breastmilk prior to six months. Also, these signs above show us that your baby’s digestive system is mature enough to handle solid foods AND that your baby is developmentally ready to participate in mealtime. Most babies are ready between six and eight months of age.

Okay, so your baby has met these milestones. How should you feed your baby?

There are two approaches – purees or baby-led weaning (which really means baby self-feeding.) 

For the first approach – we recommend a wonderful book called Super Baby Food. You can learn all about infant feeding and it has a ton of great recipes for baby food.

For the second approach – we recommend the OG book – Baby-Led Weaning.

Preparing delicious food and watching your baby eat can be a great joy and such a fun bonding experience. As a final note, we highly recommend the book My Child Won’t Eat for a wonderful perspective on how children eat (and how to not stress about it.)

About Amy Lewis

Amy is the co-owner of Buddha Belly. She is passionate about assisting women through life's most challenging transitions and nurtures a lifelong commitment to women in serving mothers as a doula. She is certified by ProDoula as a labor doula, postpartum and infant care doula and postpartum specialist. She was certified by the Healthy Children Project and the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice as a lactation counselor and is a birth, newborn and breastfeeding educator. > keep reading