Parents often ask “When is my baby ready for solid foods?”
We asked Dr. Mark Corkins, a pediatrician and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), to help parents address this common question.
Here’s what he said:
“There are a few basic principles here. First, your baby should be able to sit up on their own. Being fed laying on their back is a risk for “breathing” the food into the lungs and other issues. The baby also needs to have good head control. It is hard to hit a “moving target” with a spoon! The harder issue to asses is the baby’s ability to coordinate and swallow the solids. Don’t worry if your baby starts slowly. I always point out we start solid foods for the practice of eating. For the first year of life, AAP recommends breast milk or formula as the main source of nutrition.”
Once you start introducing solid foods to your baby, Dr. Corkins has a few tips to keep you going:
- Start feeding solid foods around mealtimes since the goal is eventually to transition to meals and snacks on a traditional schedule.
- Exposure! Infants are well-known “neo-phobes” – they often don’t like anything new! Studies show that it may take as much as 15 to 20 exposures for a new taste to be accepted. Don’t give up if your baby doesn’t seem to like something. Keep exposing them to the taste. Remember that we are just practicing with solids so the volume doesn’t need to be enough to meet their nutritional needs since their main source of nutrition will be breast milk or formula for the first year of life.
- The most important thing is to start with foods that have a good nutrient density and build the foundation for healthy eating. According to AAP, “Though many pediatricians will recommend starting vegetables before fruits, there is no evidence that your baby will develop a dislike for vegetables if fruit is given first. Babies are born with a preference for sweets, and the order of introducing foods does not change this.” Still I decided to start my kids with vegetables with the hope they would become more accustomed to them before starting with sweeter foods.
If you want more information about introducing solid foods, you can go to HealthyChildren.org to seek science-based resources that will help you feed your growing and healthy child. And check out our Airplane Choo-Choo guide to feeding your baby in the first two years.