July 02, 2015

Q: My baby is 5 months old. Until we started putting bananas in her cereal, she hadn't slept through the night. My mom keeps yelling that she's too young for cereal, bananas, and her sippy cup. But I can't get her to sleep through the night or eat without them Am I wrong to be feeding her solid foods?

A: A: In a perfect world, we would hold off giving our babies solid foods until they're six months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding only until a baby is six months old but, of course, that's not always possible or even desirable in some cases. Doctors recommend waiting to feeding solids in case babies aren't mature enough to swallow or digest them properly and to reduce the chance that babies will develop food allergies, which can be more likely when certain foods are introduced very early in life.

Of course, every baby is different, every parent is different, and every situation is different, and sometimes you will end up bending the "rules" a bit. I wasn't able to wait until my babies were six months old to begin feeding them solid foods. They all seemed really hungry at about four months, and they seemed ravenous at five months!  Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether your baby is ready for solid food:

  • Can she hold her head up and does she have good head control? She should be able to sit in a high chair or feeding chair and maintain good control of her head while eating.
  • Does she open her mouth when you offer her the spoon? When babies open their mouths to take food from a spoon, it's a good sign of readiness to eat solids.
  • Can she move the food from the spoon into her mouth without sticking out her tongue and pushing the food out or turning her head?  Your daughter should be taking the food from the spoon and swallowing it without spitting most of it out or having most of it dribble out of her mouth.
  • Is she big enough? Generally, babies are ready for solid foods when they've doubled their birth weight and weigh around 13 pounds or more.

If the answers to all of the above questions are yes, it's likely that your baby is developed enough to handle some solid foods just fine. Pureed bananas and infant cereals are good choices for babies. But before you introduce other solid foods to her diet, discuss the change with the pediatrician. This will keep your daughter healthy, and make your mom happy!

Answered by Dr. Rallie McAllister

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