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How to know when to feed baby solids?
Your baby is between 4 – 6 months
Your baby can sit up
Your baby shows an interest in food
They voluntarily open their mouthr
Your baby has doubled their birth weight
Are you concerned about recognising the signs baby is ready for solids? With all the information available you may be concerned about whether to start solids at 4 months or wait until 6 months? It can be so confusing to know when to do the right thing.
The short answer is that there are no absolute correct signs baby is ready for solids. In this article, we will explain the combination of signs you should be looking out for.
How to know when to feed baby solids?
Introducing solid foods is a significant milestone in your baby’s development and it happens within their first year! However, there’s no need to rush. All your baby’s nutritional needs are being met with exclusive breastfeeding, or formula feeding until they are 6 months old. Babies are born with enough iron reserves until this age. Nonetheless, they will need extra iron and vitamins for their future developmental goals.
In addition, a young baby will still have a natural tongue reflux which they will need to grow out of before introducing solids. This tongue reflux is a natural reflex that helps to push objects out of a young baby’s mouth to prevent them from choking. They normally grow out of this tongue reflex stage between 4-6 months of age.
While age is a significant factor, there are other additional signs baby is ready for solids that you can look out for. Here’s a list of some of those signs to take into consideration:
1. Your baby is between 4 – 6 months:
Experts recommend that you start your baby on solid foods no earlier than 4 months old, but no later than 6 months. All babies should be receiving the bulk of their feeds and nutrition from breastmilk or formula until they are at least 6 months old. It’s good to start solids a little earlier than waiting until 6 months. Studies show the longer you wait, your baby may get used to feeding habits that become difficult to change.
You can read more about a 4 month old feeding schedule and solid foods here.
2. Your baby can sit up:
You baby should be able to sit up by themselves or with a little help from a high-chair. They should have good head and neck control which means that your baby can hold their head up by themselves, or with a little support. Good head and neck control is needed for your baby to able hold their head steady so that they are capable of eating properly and to avoid choking. It also shows that they have enough core strength to be able to develop the motor skills needed for self-feeding.
3. Your baby shows an interest in food:
A good sign your baby is ready for solids is that they are showing an interest in your food. Things to look out for include that they start watching your plate or reaching out for your food. This may not always be a sign that they are hungry, although it does mean that they are watching you put food in your mouth. Babies put things in heir mouth as a means to explore, so if they are showing an interest try them with a little food. They may spit it out at first, but don’t worry this can also be a sign that they are not quite ready.
4. They voluntarily open their mouth:
Another good sign is if your baby voluntarily opens their mouth when you offer a little food on a spoon. Never try and force a baby to eat solid foods. They will show an interest by leaning forward to take the spoon. If they clamp their mouth shut, or turn their head away, they are either not hungry or not ready. Keep breast or formula feeding and try again in a few days time.
5. Your baby has doubled their birth weight:
You may have read that your baby should have at least doubled their birth weight as one of the signs baby is ready for solids. While this is a good sign it’s not necessarily a rule of thumb. Most babies will double their birth weight between 4-6 months of age. On the other hand, a premature baby may double their weight much earlier. It’s much more important to notice that your baby has developed the motor skills and oral co-ordination needed to deal with solid foods.
We’ve also created our very own baby food chart to help you with what to feed baby and when.
Starting solids will not be the miracle cure for a good nights sleep. It will take time for your baby to adapt to solids and to be taking enough for them to be ‘full’. Introduce new foods slowly and allow a few days in between to check for any allergic reactions.
Introducing solids can cause tummy upsets which may result in your baby not sleeping enough. Keep an eye on your baby’s nappy, how often they need changing and the colour and texture of the poop. If you are concerned about your baby’s bowel movements always consult a health care worker.
The best signs baby is ready for solids is when your baby is showing the necessary skills and an interest in food. It’s really important not to pressurise your baby to start solid foods. They will guide you about when they are ready and how much they will eat.
Always start with simple pureed foods that your baby can easily swallow without choking, and so that you can monitor your baby for any food allergies.
For more information you can read our article about our recommended feeding schedule for a 6 month old baby.
Australian Breastfeeding Association, Breastfeeding and family foods, Baby Center, viewed at 18th Jume 2020, URL
Glow Dreaming, 2019 Introducing solids: why, when, what and how, May 2020. viewed on 18th June 2020, URL