Switching to Solids

When will my child be ready to switch to solid foods?

Pediatricians say babies are usually ready for solids around 4 to 6 months. Telltale signs of solid-food readiness include:

• Head held high: the ability to hold their heads up on their own and sit supported without slumping.

• Big enough: when infants double their birth weight, they’re about ready for solid foods.

Tongue untied: if a baby is not ready, he or she will have a natural tonguethrust reflex to a spoon.

Eagerness: babies may watch food intently as it comes their way or even try to grab a bite off of your plate.

Basics of Infant Nutrition

By Laura Childers

What foods should I start with?

Baby cereal, or rice cereal, is a great first step. This is available premixed in individual containers or dry, to which you can add breast milk, formula, or water. From there, you can advance to pureed or semi-liquid food, like mashed fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and even pureed meats.

How slow do I go?

Introduce only one new food at a time and wait 2-3 days before starting another. This will give you a chance to see if your baby is allergic to the new food. Start with half a spoonful, and don’t worry if a good deal of it ends up on his or her face, hands, or bib. It takes time. One way to make it easier is to alternate between breast milk and/or formula and small half-spoonfuls of solid food. Between 4-6 months, start with just one meal of solid food a day—breast milk or formula should still provide the majority of calories and nutrients. By around 6-7 months, two meals a day are the norm.

What foods should I avoid?

For choking reasons, you’ll want to avoid foods like raisins, popcorn, grapes, and tough meats. To play it safe, you’ll also want to hold off on feeding your baby more allergenic foods like soy, dairy, eggs, wheat, fish, and nuts.

When do I start a sippy cup?

At the six-month mark, you can begin to introduce the sippy cup. By 1 year old, your baby should be off the bottle altogether and eating a variety of other foods and only 2-3 cups (480-720 milliliters) of milk per day.

When do I switch to finger food?

Around eight months, babies should be eating solid food three times a day and may begin to discover they can transport food to their mouths on their own. The best finger foods for babies are soft, easy to swallow, and cut into small pieces. Examples include: minced meal, mashed egg yolks, soft cheese, wholegrain breads, well-cooked pasta, steamed vegetables, and soft fruits.