Starting your baby on solid foods is a big and exciting milestone — one some parents can’t wait to get to and others are sad to meet. The question of when to start your little one on solids (something other than breastmilk or formula) is less about a magical age and more about your individual child’s signs that he or she is ready. Most babies show signs of readiness around six months of age (give or take), but don’t be surprised if you hit six months and your baby is showing no interest at all in solid food — that’s totally fine and normal, too. So, what are those signs and how will you know when the time is right? You should be able to check off all five of these boxes before trying to give your baby solids:
- Baby can sit up without support
- Baby can hold his/her neck in an upright position
- Baby is genuinely interested in your food — either reaching for or eyeing your food while you eat.
- Baby seems unsatisfied by his/her usual amount of breastmilk/formula
- Baby has doubled their birthweight
Once you’ve determined your baby is ready to start solid foods, it can feel overwhelming to figure out how to go about doing this. Many pediatricians in the United States recommend starting with rice cereal, but that thinking has come under scrutiny in recent years. For one, rice has been found to contain varying levels of arsenic, but beyond that, there is simply no medical evidence showing that that starting solids in any particular order — including with rice cereal — has any advantages. There are actually very few rules surrounding what you can and can’t feed your baby once they begin solid foods. All you really need to know is this:
Until your baby is one — food is just for fun. Pureed food will help your child practice and develop the skill of eating, but the overwhelming majority of nutrition must still be coming from breastmilk or formula.
No honey before age one. Despite it seeming like a healthy sweetener, honey can actually contain spores of a bacterium that could lead to botulism poisoning, a rare but possibly fatal illness.
When trying something for the first time, it’s a good idea not to mix it with anything. The safest way to introduce your baby to new foods is one at a time. This is so in the event your child has a bad reaction to the food, you’ll know exactly what caused it. If you gave your little one a mixture of sweet potato, pear and red pepper and then he/she broke out in hives, you wouldn’t know which of the three fruits/veggies caused the reaction!
Aside from those three simple “rules,” your baby is free to eat ALL-THE-THINGS. It can be downright hilarious watching your little one’s reactions when trying new foods for the first time. Keep the pressure off and have fun with it. And if you ever feel like you’re bored or running out of ideas of what to feed baby — we are obsessed with all the creative puree recipes on the Baby Foodie site! Enjoy!