Adding solid food to your baby’s diet can be a fun time for both you and your child. You get to see what they like and don’t like, how they react to different tastes and textures, and determine the best ways to move forward in the introduction process.
To ensure you introduce new foods safely, we’ve answered some of the top questions parents have about feeding new foods to your baby.
What Signs Should I Look for Before I Introduce New Foods?
Babies are often ready to venture out from breast milk or formula around 4 to 6 months old. However, many experts agree that waiting till around the 6-month mark is a safer strategy. Six months is when most babies develop the skills needed to safely give solid foods a try.
Between 4 and 6 months, your baby’s tongue and mouth muscles start to become strong and coordinated enough to work the food to the back of the mouth and swallow it properly. Younger babies will only push the food out with their tongues. Sometimes, 4 months is too early of an early age to test mouth strength, but your baby should reach this stage in the development by 6 months old.
Six-month-olds also have better digestive capabilities at this age. Between newly born and 6 months, your baby only has the enzymes to safely digest and process milk. Solid foods could create a negative digestive reaction if introduced too soon. Around six months, however, you baby will begin creating a more dynamic digestive system that can handle the complexities of solid food.
Physical and Behavioral Changes
When preparing to feed your baby solid food, consider your baby’s physical capabilities first. Ask yourself,
- Can my baby hold their head up well?
- Can my baby sit up when supported?
- Is my baby mouthing at things like their hands, toys, and other objects?
- Is my baby leaning forward and opening their mouth in a way that shows they’re interested in eating?
All of these factors will tell you whether your baby is ready to start trying solid food or needs a little more time to develop.
As you introduce solid foods, don’t have a goal of switching out their milk right away. This is the time to add solids to your baby’s diet here and there; it should complement their milk intake right now, not replace it.