Starting Baby Food
What the Experts Say + Signs Baby is Ready for Solids
It can be very confusing to know when the right time is to start solids. And how could it not be? Even the experts say different things at different times! So let’s get to it, what do the experts say and what are the signs baby is ready for solids?
The World Health Organization
WHO recommends waiting to start solids until the baby is 6 months old. If you are breastfeeding the recommendation is to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months. If you are formula feeding, the recommendation is the same- to exclusively formula feed for the first 6 months.
The American Academy of Pediatrics
To make things more confusing, the AAP has different groups within it that have slightly different recommendations.
The American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding recommends exclusively breastfeeding for about 6 months before introducing complementary foods.
The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition is a bit more flexible, recommending starting solids at approximately 6 months but tailoring to individual infants based on signs baby is ready for solids and specific circumstances.
American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology recommends starting solids between 4 and 6 months when the baby is ready and depending on whether they are at high risk for food allergies.
What are some of the risks of starting solids too early?
Starting solids too early has been linked to higher rates of choking, inadequate weight gain, and obesity later in life. Choking is increased if solids are introduced before kids are developmentally ready. There are different theories on why starting solids early can lead to obesity. One is that kids learn to ignore their own hunger cues early on.
What are some of the risks of starting solids too late?
Starting solids too late can also be problematic. As kids grow, they need more iron in their diets. Since breastmilk and formula do not have iron, children get it through food. Starting solids late has been tied to anemia and iron deficiency. Kids that don’t experience certain textures or foods until late can also have higher rates of food refusal and failure to thrive.
What are these cues to watch for?
The big thing is to make sure your little one is developmentally ready for solid foods. Some things to watch for are:
- Baby sits up without support
- No more tongue-thrust reflex (where baby pushing things out of mouth)
- Baby ready to chew
- You see some pincer grasp happening (where little one picks up things between thumb and forefinger)
- You’re seeing interest in mealtime and baby may even grab for foods
Signs baby is ready for solids – in a flow chart
This is so confusing! We have taken all the guidelines and data and put together a flow chart to help you decide. Each family is different, and you should definitely also talk to your own pediatrician about when they think is the right time for your child.
In the meantime, we hope this is helpful!