When should I introduce solid food to my baby?

As long as your baby shows signs of readiness, your child’s doctor may say you can start solids any time around 4 to 6 months. Until then, breast milk or formula provides all the calories and nourishment your baby needs – and can handle. Infants don’t yet have the physical skills to swallow solid foods safely, and their digestive system simply isn’t ready for solids until they’re about 4 months old.

(Note that there’s some controversy on this topic. While the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) section on breastfeeding recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months, the AAP’s nutrition section and guidelines for pediatricians recommend starting solids at 4 to 6 months.)

How can I tell when my baby’s ready for solid food?

Your baby will give you clear signs when he’s ready to move beyond a liquid diet. Cues to look for include:

  • Head control. Your baby needs to be able to keep his head in a steady, upright position.
  • Sitting well when supported. Your baby needs to be able to sit uprightin an infant feeding seat or highchair to swallow well.
  • Losing the “extrusion reflex.” Your baby’s mouth and tongue develop in sync with his digestive system. To start solids, he should be able to move food to the back of his mouth and swallow it, instead of using his tongue to push food out of his mouth.
  • Significant weight gain. He may be ready to eat solids if he’s doubled his birth weight, weighs at least 13 pounds, and is at least 4 months old.
  • Curiosity about food. Your baby may begin eyeing or reaching for your food or may open his mouth if you offer him a spoonful.