Doctors suggest starting a baby on solid foods sometime between 4 and 7 months of age. Some babies are ready for solids as early as 3 months, but it's not recommended; the earlier a baby gets started on solids, the more likely that she'll be prone to food allergies later on.
At the beginning, solid foods will just be a supplement to your child's primary source of nutrition -- breast milk or formula. So there's no need to worry if you haven't gotten your baby started on solids yet or if he's not eating as much solid food as you'd like.
It's important to determine whether your baby is ready for solids before you introduce them. Here are some signs of your baby's readiness:
- Your baby's tongue-thrust reflex is gone or diminished. This natural reflex, which prevents infants from choking on foreign objects, also causes them to push food out of their mouths.
- Your baby can support her own head. Even if your baby can't quite sit up on her own yet, she needs to be able to hold her head up in order to start eating solids.
- Your baby seems interested in food. If she's eying the food you're eating, reaching out to grab your food, or licking her lips when she smells new foods, she's probably craving the variety that comes with starting solids.
If you have a family history of food allergies, your baby is more likely to have them, too. In that case, you might want to consider waiting until 6 or 7 months before starting solids. Allowing your baby's digestive system to mature further may help reduce her chances of developing food allergies. You may also want to wait a bit longer than usual if your baby was born prematurely; premature babies often need more time to master the suck-swallow-breathe pattern necessary to handle solid foods.