Help&Advice

Introducing Solids: Why When & How

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Is baby curious about solid foods? If your baby is at least six months, the next big food experience is introducing solids.

Introducing Solids: Why, When & How

Your baby is growing and experiencing many news things! If your baby is at least six months of age, you may want to start exploring solid foods.

But, don’t move too soon. Breastmilk is all your baby needs until at least six months of age.  In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization and many other health organizations recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed (no cereal, juice or other foods) for the first six months.

When your baby is ready for this next big step, here are some helpful hints to get you started.

Why Should Baby Eat Solids?

Babies really do grow quickly, and before you know it, they are ready to try new things. You can certainly keep breastfeeding after six months, but here are some reasons why introducing solids is a good idea:

  • There comes a time when breastmilk no longer supplies all your baby's nutritional needs. A full term baby will need iron from other sources by 6-9 months of age.
  • Some babies who don’t start solids by 9-12 months of age may have great difficulty accepting solid foods later.
  • Eventually, a baby will want - and need - to eat solids. This is an important developmental milestone and shouldn’t be delayed for too long.

When Should Baby Start Solid Foods?

By six months of age, some babies will start showing an interest in solid food.  They may reach for and try to grab food from your plate. Granted, your baby is grabbing at everything at this point, so this may not be the best indicator of a baby's readiness for solids. Look for other cues, including the ability to sit up and losing the reflex to push food out of their mouths with their tongue.

Your breastfed baby should have an easier time digesting solid foods earlier than a formula-fed baby because breastmilk contains enzymes that help digest fats, proteins and starch. They have also been exposed to a wide variety of flavors, since the flavors of many foods you eat pass into your baby’s milk. This all helps breastfed babies accept solids more readily.