• Elle

Is my baby ready for solid food?

The guidelines: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the World Health Organization recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Whether your baby is breast-fed or formula-fed, solid foods may be introduced starting at six months of age. After solid foods are introduced it is recommended breast feeding/formula feeding continue through 12 months of age or longer if desired by mother and baby.

But, let's talk more about what these mean and how to apply them to your child's needs and daily routine.

Signs your baby is ready to start eating solid foods:

  • Baby sits up with minimal support

  • Demonstrates good head control

  • Reaches for food off plates

  • Ability to communicate when he/she has had enough to eat

*Notice that age is not on this list. Developmental readiness is the most important factor when considering if it is time to start solids with your child.

What foods to start with: Single ingredient foods one at a time at 3-5 day intervals

  • Infant cereals

  • Pureed avocado, peas, carrots, or other vegetables

  • Pureed fruit

  • Pureed protein (meat, beans, etc)

Notes on this:

  1. I encourage people to start with vegetables, it has been shown children whose first foods are fruits prefer sweet foods and will resist incorporating vegetables into their diet.

  2. Many people start with rice cereal, this is not a bad option but as your baby has a variety of foods in their rapport other food groups should be mixed with the grain. Also, it is not recommended to exclusively give rice cereal due to arsenic. Varying the type of grain you offer is encouraged!

  3. Some people offer protein last (offering grain&fruits&veggies first). This can be due to tolerance concerns as most of the common allergens are protein foods. The counter argument is that babies need iron containing foods, especially breast fed babies. What will work best for your little one?


  • The purpose of introducing foods slowly and one at a time is to monitor for possible food allergies. Common allergens should not be avoided but a family history of food allergies should be provided to your dietitian.

Common allergens: milk, egg, soy, wheat, shellfish, peanut, tree nut, fish

Signs of a food allergy or intolerance:

please report any of these you see to your primary care office OR call an ambulance if your child needs immediate attention: hives, skin rashes, swelling of lips or face, coughing/wheezing, itchy/water eyes, diarrhea, vomiting, difficulty breathing.

Additional tips:

  • Avoid foods too high in sugar as avoiding this in infancy may help to set a lower threshold for sweet tastes later in life. (ex. Offer unsweetened applesauce & do not offer juice/soda/candy/cakes)

  • Mix infant cereals with breast milk, formula, or water.

  • Cereals should be fed with a spoon, not in a bottle unless medically indicated and recommended by your physician.

  • Continue to offer foods even if your baby has initially shown dislike or refusal. It takes multiple exposures of a food for a child to show interest and multiple tastes for them to decide if they like it. These habits are a great precedent to set young so that tasting foods is a regular part of meal and snack time as your baby gets older. Increasing exposure to foods in infancy has shown to improve willingness to try new foods in childhood.

  • Avoid foods that may be a choking hazard- grapes, nuts, raw carrots, round candies. (well...at this stage let's just avoid all candy )

  • Avoid honey, as it is associated with infant botulism.

  • Avoid milk other than breast milk and formula in the first year of life. Cow’s milk lacks iron and may be difficult on the infant’s kidneys. Plant based milks (almond, rice, coconut, etc) will not adequately meet your child's nutrition needs.

  • Avoid fruit juice, soda, and other sugar-sweetened beverages. (this rule applies even after infancy, sugar sweetened beverages should always be avoided)

Advancing Solids:

  • When purees are tolerated you may advance to thicker purees and soft mashed foods. Talk with your dietitian about how and when to do this!

Resources for more information:

  • https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/when-to-introduce-solid-foods.html

  • https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/eating-as-a-family/dos-and-donts-for-babys-first-foods

  • https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/HALF-Implementation-Guide/Age-Specific-Content/Pages/Infant-Food-and-Feeding.aspx

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