Introducing Solid Food

While the American Academy of Pediatrics advises mothers to breastfeed their babies for at least six months, many parents find that their babies are ready for solid food way before the half year mark. If your baby shows signs he's ready to try something solid, you can introduce food from the age of 4 months. In general, breast milk or formula is the best delivery method for giving your baby all the calories and nutrients he needs until the age of 6 months.  Once your baby is half a year old, his little digestive system is ready to handle some real food. Not sure he's ready? Here are some signs your baby may use to show you he's primed to move beyond the bottle or the breast:

Holding Steady--When To Start Solid Food

Good head control—A baby who can hold his head straight up and steady won't gag when you give him a spoonful of cereal.

Sits well—Your baby may be ready for food before he's ready for a high chair, but the main thing is that he can sit up, even if he needs a bit of support. Good sitting posture means swallowing instead of choking.

Loss of tongue-thrust reflex—When you touch a baby's tongue, he responds by pushing his tongue out of his mouth. This is called the extrusion reflex and lasts until your baby is between 4-5 months old. The first time you give him a spoon of anything, he's liable to push it back out with his tongue, because he's never known a different way to use his tongue.

Reduced Drooling

Chewing—A baby's mouth and tongue have to work in tandem with his digestive tract. He needs to be able to move his food toward the back of his mouth, where he can then swallow the food. A sign your baby is close to mastering these important techniques is reduced drooling. Teething motivates your baby to start using his little gums, and this is good practice for eating solids.

Doubled birth weight—Babies double their birth weight between the ages of 4-6 months. When they've achieved this milestone, or they weigh about 15 pounds, and are at least 4 months old, they're probably ready for food.

Hunger—Your baby seems hungry even though you're feeding him 8-10 times a day with breast milk or formula.

Food Snatcher--Signs Your Baby Is Baby Ready

Curiosity—Your baby is always trying to snatch food off of your fork, no matter if it's pasta or fish. He's watching every mouthful as it travels from the plate to your mouth and is looking for an angle to make his move.


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