Is My Baby ready to Start Eating Solid Foods?
If your baby is around 6 months old, you may be wondering “Is my baby ready to start eating solid foods?” Although age can be a good indicator of when to start solids, it’s important to look for signs of readiness. Read on to learn more about signs of readiness to know if your baby is ready to start eating solid foods.
Signs of Readiness for Starting Solids
Signs your baby is ready to start eating solid foods(1,2):
- Head control: your baby is able to hold their head upright & steady for the entire meal, approximately 15-20 minutes
- Sitting: your baby is able to sit by themselves in a high-chair, with minimal support
- Interest: your baby watches you eat, leans towards food, and shows a desire to eat
- Reach & grab: your baby can pick up food using a palmer grasp (fingers to palm) and can easily bring it to their mouth
- No tongue-thrust reflex: your baby’ tongue-thrust reflex is gone or weakened, meaning they no longer push food out of their mouth with their tongue when it’s offered
- Leaning: when food is offered, your baby leans towards it showing interest, readiness, and enjoyment
If you think your baby is ready to start eating solid foods, check out our previous blog posts on “How do I Safely Feed My Baby Solid Foods?” and “Important Nutrients When Introducing Solids”
What if My Baby Isn’t Ready at Six Months?
As previously mentioned, age can be a good indicator of when to think about introducing solids (1,3). However, just because it’s recommended to start around 6 months of age, doesn’t mean your baby will be ready. Try not to stress! Remember, every baby is different and your baby may not be ready right at 6 months. Notably, some babies are not ready to start eating solid foods until 6.5 to 7 months old, and that’s okay! Instead of worrying about age, try to focus on watching for signs of readiness.
If your baby isn’t quite ready, have them spend time in their highchair daily and allow them to play with their food or food tools regularly. If you come to a point that you’re worried about development, reach out to your physician or paediatrician.
When Should I Start Solids if My Baby is Premature?
Currently, the research on when to introduce solids to premature babies is lacking. Similar to full-term babies, for premature babies it’s still important to watch for signs of readiness (1,4). Often, signs of readiness may come later for preemies as their chronological age (age since birth) may not reflect their developmental or corrected age (chronological age minus number of weeks premature) (4).
For example, if your baby was born at 36 weeks gestation, and their chronological age is 6 months, their corrected age is actually 5 months because they were born 4 weeks early, considering a full-term gestation is 40 weeks. This can be confusing! Hopefully, this helps you to understand that just because your premature baby is 6 months old, doesn’t mean they’re ready to start eating solid foods.
Importantly, for babies born earlier than 32 weeks or babies with underlying medical conditions, it’s recommended that you consult your primary care providers, including your dietitian, prior to introducing solid foods.
Final Notes from The Nest
Remember, age is just a number! If you’re wondering “is my baby ready to start eating solid foods?”, watch for signs of readiness! Primarily, this includes head control, sitting without support, and interest in food! If your baby doesn’t seem ready to eat solid foods, try not to stress too much as every baby is different. If you want to learn even more about introducing solids, check out our Intro to Solids Virtual Program!
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- Solid Starts [Internet]. Brooklyn: Solid Starts LLC; c2019-2022 [cited 2023 Apr 5]. Readiness to babies to start solid food; [about 7 screens]. Available from: https://solidstarts.com/readiness/
- La Leche League International [Internet]. North Carolina: La Leche League International; c2023 [cited 2023 Apr 5]. Starting solids; [about 3 screens] Available from: https://llli.org/breastfeeding-info/starting-solids/
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [Internet]. Georgia: U.S Department of Health and Human Services; c 2022 [updated 2021 Aug 24; cited 2023 Apr 5]. When, what, and how to introduce solid foods; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/when-to-introduce-solid-foods.html
- Cleary, J., Dalton, S., Harman, A., & Wright, I. (2020). Current practice in the introduction of solid foods for preterm infants. Public Health Nutrition, 23(1), 94-101. doi:10.1017/S1368980019002337