With the advice on starting solids varying depending on who you ask, it can be hard to know when the milestone should happen for your baby. We go through the research on when to start solids—at 4 months or at 6 months—to help you make the best decision possible.
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Starting solids is one of the most fun and exciting milestones that we get to experience with our babies during the first year. But when to actually start a baby on solid foods is controversial and the advice can change depending on who you ask. Many families start at 4 months, and many wait until 6. There’s no one right answer, but there are some factors to consider.
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Starting Solids at 4 Months
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting to start solids until a baby is 6 months, and to go with wide variety of foods, introduced one at a time. But many pediatricians still say it’s okay to start rice cereal at 4 months. If your pediatrician recommends this at the 4 month check up, ask their thoughts on the recommendation from the AAP.
Newer research, as written about in the book First Bite, also suggests starting closer to 4 months, but with a wider range of flavors to take advantage of a window of greater flavor acceptability in younger babies. Virginia shares her experience going this route with her baby Beatrix in this week’s episode of the podcast. It’s thought that by introducing a lot of flavors early on, you might be able to ward off picky eating…she’s going to keep us in the loop as Beatrix enters toddlerhood!
Starting Solids at 6 Months
Megan McNamee MPH, RDN, CLT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in pediatric nutrition and runs Feeding Littles. She’s also an expert in helping parents start solids and she gives such helpful advice for how to know when your baby is ready to start solids. She recommends that we pay attention to these readiness signs:
- How well they can sit up on their own.
- How good their head control is.
- Whether they show interest in food when sitting at the table.
- How they sit when they’re in the highchair—can they sit upright without being extensively propped up?
Which are the best foods for starting solids?
For most babies, it doesn’t really matter which foods you start with as long as they’re whole foods without added salt or sugar. You can start with single-grain cereals or go with fruits or vegetables. Babies are born with a preference for sweet foods, but that doesn’t mean you need to avoid fruits or just offer veggies to start. Aim to do a mix of flavors! We like banana, avocado, sweet potato, peas, butternut squash, and pureed fruits.
And you can introduce meat, which is a great source of iron and zinc and are more readily absorbed than from plant-based sources.
Which highchair is best for a baby?
You’ll want a highchair that allows a baby to sit upright, rather than slouched back in a reclining position which could be a choking hazard. It’s also a good idea to choose a highchair that has a food rest which can promote proper body positioning while sitting.
Two of our favorites are the Stokke Tripp Trapp, which I’ve had for 7 years now and can say that it’s incredibly durable and easy to clean. We also love that it transforms into a stool once the kids are too big for the highchair components. It’s totally worth the price!
Another highchair that’s great for babies is Keekaroo Height Right Kids Chair that has nice cushions for added support.
Learn How to Start Solids the Easy Way
Feeding Littles has an amazing video course with step-by-step info on how to start solids. It’s a self-paced video course so you can watch (and rewatch!) all of the videos at your own pace. They include videos of real babies eating so you can see what’s normal and the content is in depth and reassuring.
Take $10 off with the code YUMMYTODDLERFOOD at Feeding Littles.
Tell Us What You Think!
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this podcast episode, so please comment below or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether you have feedback on the timing of starting solids or have a feeding kids question for us, we’d love to hear from you.