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How to Know When Your Baby Is Solid Food Ready

WHEN IS BABY SOLID FOOD READY

When it comes to big choices you are making for your baby, most of them tend to rally around food and nutrition. One significant choice is when is your baby solid food ready. There is a lot of bad advice out there for starting your baby on solids. For instance, baby cereal at just a week, weeks, and even days old. These age-old practices are outdated and can easily confuse parents looking to decide when is the right time for their baby to eat solids. Here is how to know when your baby is ready for solid foods. 

 

THEY ARE AT THE SIX MONTH AGE MARK

While some doctors still recommend adding cereal to your baby’s formula and starting solids at just a few months, recent studies have proven this is not the best option for your baby’s health. The current recommendation is to start solids no earlier than six months of age. This allows your baby’s gut time to develop and your baby to get the full benefits of high fat breastmilk or formula without risking reducing their intake of this vital brain-building nutrition.

If you are going to use baby cereal before the six-month age mark, I recommend using no more than a tablespoon only in their bedtime bottle. 

For the best start, avoid baby food and cereals until 6 months of age. That said, if you did start cereal early after being recommended to do so by a doctor or loved one, relax. Your baby will be just fine despite the early start. Just because something is not the best choice does not mean your child is going to suffer. Recommendations change over time, and no one can keep track of them all. Simply change how you do things going forward. 

Suppose your baby seems to be eating more and not getting full and has not reached the important milestones for starting solids. In that case, you can take advantage of a pumping and feeding trick called paced feeding. This is where you slow down feedings to give your baby time to feel full.

Honestly, we gave Atlas solids starting at 5 months. We tried mashed up bananas, avocados, and sweet potatoes all at 5 months because he showed strong signs of being ready. However, we made sure not to compromise how much of his bottle he was getting to ensure he was still getting all of his nutrients.

Let’s dive into the Signs to Know When is Baby Solid Food Ready

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PHYSICAL MILESTONES

There are several physical milestones to look for when deciding if your baby is ready for solid foods. As our babies develop, they gain the skills to safely feed themselves. Whether you choose to use baby-led weaning or a more traditional start to solid foods with spoon-feeding, your baby should develop these skills before starting solid foods:

  • Sitting up supported
  • Hand control
  • Interest in your food
  • Your baby is no longer pushing things out of his or her mouth.

Let’s dive deeper into this.

 

SITTING UP SUPPORTED

When your baby is ready to start solids, she will be able to sit up with support, such as in a high chair. This is important to help prevent choking. Your baby should always be fed solid foods in an upright position

HAND CONTROL

Before starting solid foods, your baby should have food hand control. This included the ability to smoothly bring toys to their mouths intentionally. If you are beginning with baby-led weaning, then your baby will need the ability to use a pincer grip for picking up small chunks of food and moving it to their mouths. 

 

INTEREST

This one can be tricky because babies will often show interest in what you are doing long before they are ready to eat. Often people will tell you that your baby’s interest in what you are doing while you eat tells you that your baby is ready to eat solid foods. This is simply not true any more than your interest in watching someone jump out of a plane means you are prepared to do the same.

Likewise, if your baby shows no interest at all, they are not ready for solids as they should never be forced. When your baby is genuinely interested, they will tend to do all of the following.

  • Watch your plate when you enter a room with food
  • Attempt to grab your food when they’re near it
  • Open their mouth when they see you lifting food from your plate to eat

 

YOUR BABY NO LONGER PUSHES THINGS OUT OF HIS/HER MOUTH 

When you put something in your baby’s mouth, you may notice how if they don’t immediately start sucking. Instead they will push it out with their tongue. This is called the extrusion reflex, and if your child still has this reflex, they are not ready for solid foods. Often you will see parents trying solid foods with their babies for the first time and getting frustrated that their baby doesn’t like the new food.

Suppose solid foods are started too early. In that case, the baby doesn’t like or dislike the food but what looks to be refusal is simply a natural reflex designed to help prevent babies from choking.

So, are you feeling more prepared for when is baby solid food ready? After reading through this list, do you think your baby is ready for solids? If yes, make sure you have the following ready for baby’s first solid food endeavor:

  • A bib. I personally like the silicone bibs because they catch food, are easy to wipe clean, and cuts back on laundry.
  • A high chair or something similar that includes a tray. I got the Ingenuity brand because it grows with your baby. 
  • Your baby food of choice. We prefer Beech Nut Naturals, which you can get at Target.
  • A moist paper towel. Trust me. If you don’t want your baby and everything around you covered in baby food, have a few moist towelettes readily available!
  • Soft baby spoons.

We also bought Atlas Happy Baby Organic teething wafers to get him used to chewing food. If you give your baby these, please just make sure you are close by in case your little one starts to choke. My son has been eating them for a month now, and hasn’t had any problems, but you never know. Better safe than sorry.

GENERAL HEALTH

When deciding if your baby is ready for solid food, you need to consider their overall health. A strong and healthy baby will be ready to start solid foods without the risk of reducing nutrition from breastmilk or formula becoming an issue. For babies who struggle with health issues or weight gain, solid foods can reduce their hunger and add issues with deficiencies. 

One thing I would recommend before starting solid foods is taking a quick course on infant Heimlich maneuver and infant CPR. There are many baby First Aid courses you can take, which I highly recommend taking if they are available to you. 

All of our in-person courses were canceled due to Covid-19, so I couldn’t take a course through my hospital. Mayo Clinic has actually been an incredible resource for me throughout my pregnancy and now throughout motherhood with an infant. Also, you can find almost anything on YouTube. Just make sure the source you are looking at is credible. Again, I recommend Mayo Clinic’s YouTube site. Here is a good video from Mayo Clinic’s infant Heimlich maneuver to learn from:

So listen, every baby is different. The best thing to do is consult your doctor if you think your child is ready before six months. I don’t think trying foods before six months is damaging, and I don’t think a small amount of baby cereal here, or there is either. I do strongly encourage you to make sure the signs are there before fully diving into the solid food arena, though. 

 

PS: Another great resources for information is the MAYO CLINIC’S website!

 

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About Morgan Wender

I’m a boy mom, dog mom, bee mom, lover of all things Disney, and lover of making the best out of this chaotic life of mine. I created this platform to share my life, and help normalize “big topic” motherhood issues. I hope you enjoy my mix of life, love, levity, and everything in between.Now that you know a little about me, I would love to know more about you! Find me over on Instagram, and shoot me a DM if you would like to chat!the journey

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Hi, I’m Morgan! I created this platform to be able to share my life, help normalize big topic motherhood issues, and help simplify all the things I learned the complicated way. I hope you enjoy my mix of life, love, levity, and everything in between

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