Babies often hit one of their growth spurts at six months. Around this time, it may seem that your little one just can't eat enough, and you may be wondering if now is the time to add some solid food. Here are some guidelines for knowing when your baby is ready for solid foods and how to introduce them.
A baby's growth from 5-8 months will allow for many changes in food intake. Breast milk or iron-fortified formula still needs to be the main part of a baby's diet. Solids may be started at this time.
Solids do not help young infants sleep through the night. Starting solids too soon can:
- Cause choking
- Be hard for your baby to digest
- Increase the risk of developing allergies
- Prevent your baby from getting enough breast milk or formula—Breast milk or iron-fortified formula should continue to be your child’s most important source of nutrients until age 12 months.
To find out if your baby is ready for solid foods, look for these signs:
- Holds his or her neck up in a steady position
- Sits up on his or her own without support
- Opens his or her mouth to eat food when you offer it
- Moves lower lip in when you take the spoon away
- Is able to hold the food in his or her mouth and swallow it
- Is interested in the food that people are eating around his or her and reaches for food
Tips for Feeding Your Baby Solids
To help your child learn to eat solid foods, remember the following:
- Choose a time when your baby is rested and happy.
- Have your baby sit up.
- Feed all food from a spoon.
- Add only one new food at a time. For example, do not mix fruits and vegetables.
- Give your baby plain, strained foods. Do this for fruits and vegetables that you are going to serve.
- Your baby does not need salt, grease, fat, or sugar added to foods.
- Do not give your baby honey. It can contain botulism spores.
- Homemade or purchased baby foods can be used.
- Your doctor will let you know when you can begin offering finger foods like crackers, dry cereal, and teething biscuits. This may not be until your baby is 7-9 months old.
- Make sure the food is not too hot or cold.
- When opening jar food, listen for the pop. Avoid using jars with lids that don't pop.
- Give small portions of food. Throw away leftovers, and do not put food back in the jar as this may make your child ill.
Other key points:
- To protect teeth and begin weaning, always offer juice from a cup.
- To prevent choking, always hold your baby when feeding from a bottle.
Feeding Schedule: 5-8 Months
When giving your baby finger foods, watch your baby carefully for choking. Be extremely careful or avoid foods that may increase the chances of choking, like hot dogs, hard candy, grapes, seeds, popcorn, and nuts.
Suggestions When Using Solid Foods
- Start with single-grain cereal such as rice cereal.
- Wait until your baby is six months old to try other kinds of cereal.
- Start by making the cereal thin—mix one teaspoon of dry cereal with 2-3 tablespoons of breast milk or iron-fortified formula.
- As baby gets older, make it thicker—mix one tablespoon dry cereal with 2-3 tablespoons of breast milk or iron-fortified formula.
- Use plain, strained meats when starting. If meat is too thick, thin with breast milk, iron-fortified formula, or meat juices.
- Start with pureed fruits and vegetables.
- Start with single, plain choices.
- Don't serve fruit desserts.
- Continue breast milk or iron fortified formula for the first year of life.
- Do not give juice to children younger than 6 months.
- Your baby can start to drink water at 6 months or younger if the weather is warm.
- Have your baby use a cup, not a bottle.
- Use only 100% juice, not flavored fruit drinks like Kool-aid, punch, or cola.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 05/2014 -
- Update Date: 05/14/2014 -