Starting your baby on solid foods is an exciting experience. However, there is a lot of conflicting knowledge about when to start introducing new textures and tastes to your baby’s diet.
When can babies begin eating solid food?
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that a child can begin eating solid foods at about six months old. They also state that you do not need to give food in any certain order. Once your baby is seven or eight months old, they can eat various foods from different food groups, including infant cereals, meat and other proteins, fruits and vegetables, and grains.
Waiting until six months is suggested because there are other milestones your baby must reach before they are ready to eat solid foods. Your baby needs to be able to sit with little or no support, have good head control, and be interested in eating solids. If you try to introduce solids before the baby is ready, you may notice that they push the food out of their mouth as quickly as you put it in.
Babies who start solid foods before four months old are at a high risk for obesity as they grow up. They are also not coordinated enough to safely swallow and may choke on the food or inhale it into their lungs. Starting solids early can also contribute to food allergies as well.
Most people start their babies on single grain, iron-fortified baby cereal. Rice cereal is traditionally the first food that babies eat, but you can start with any food you prefer. Puréed foods and vegetables work well as initial solids, and if you are making your baby food, you can mix the solids with breast milk or formula. No matter how you introduce your baby to solids, it’s important to wait a few days between new foods to ensure your baby doesn’t have an allergic reaction.