Those first few milestones with your baby are really exciting—precious baby laughs, sitting up without support, and of course, eating solids!
While most milestones happen on their own, a formal introduction to solids is something that you have to do for your child. This makes knowing when and how to introduce solids to your baby a bit more complicated. Luckily, there are some easy signs you can recognize that will help you know when to introduce your baby to solids.
Note: This post is Part 1 in my series all about introducing solids to your baby! Make sure to also check out The Best First Foods for Baby (Part 2) and How to Introduce Allergenic Foods to Your Baby (Part 3)!
5 Signs Your Baby is Ready For Solids
1. Baby begins to show interest in food
One of the telltale signs your baby is ready for solids is when your baby begins noticing food, reaching for it, and bringing it towards his/her mouth. Also, there may be a little fussing and unhappiness mixed in there if your baby doesn’t get what he wants.
2. Baby can sit up without much support
Babies need to have the strength to sit up on their own so they can interact with food and properly digest what they are eating. The best way to get baby to this point is to give him/her lots of floor time. Let your baby explore, roll around, and build core muscle strength through active movement. Avoid using propping devices (like the Bumbo or activity gyms) as much as you can manage as this forces your baby into an unnatural posture and can hamper development.
3. Baby doesn’t drool as much and no longer has a tongue thrust reflex
Less drooling means your baby has started to learn how to swallow his/her saliva, which means he can now swallow food. YAY! Another important milestone is the loss of the tongue thrust reflex, which is when your baby’s tongue automatically pushes any object or food out of his mouth. This wonderful reflex is meant to prevent your baby from choking. If you try to feed your baby and he spits it out, he is likely not ready for solids.
4. Baby begins to open mouth wide when a spoon comes to his/her mouth
This means your baby can see what’s coming his/her way, has an interest in food, and all of the appropriate motor development is present to interact with food.
5. Baby is willing to chew
Some of this is your baby imitating what he/she sees you do, and it’s also a natural reaction to explore the food he’s been given. If you’re baby begins gumming his food, smacking his lips, and has a willingness to chew, it’s a good sign you’re right on track and your baby is ready for solids.
Is Your Baby Ready for Solids? Here’s What the Experts Say
As of 2018, most health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), World Health Organization, and American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that babies remain exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development, and health.
However, the AAP has also stated in their nutrition guidelines for pediatricians that solids can be started at 4 to 6 months, although the reason for this discrepancy is unclear.
So, what did I decide to do? My daughter received the majority of her nutrition from breastfeeding until she was 6 months old. When she started showing the signs of readiness around 5 1/2 months old, I let her touch, taste, and naw on iron-rich foods such as liverwurst, a strip of grass-fed steak (while I held on to it), and avocado that was mashed with bone broth. These were not sit-down-and-eat sessions, they were opportunities for her to interact with our food, and truthfully, remain entertained while we were eating.
It wasn’t until 6 months that I decided to formally introduce her to solids in her highchair. At that point, she was sitting up on her own and had lost her tongue thrust reflex.
How did you know your baby was ready for solids and what were the signs? Share below!