Most parents introduce solids any time between 4 and 6 months. Until then, breast milk or formula provides all the calories and nourishment your baby needs. His/her digestive system simply isn’t ready for solids until the half-birthday. Waiting until your baby is ready greatly reduces the risk of an allergic reaction and shortens the transition time between spoon- and self-feeding. Always talk to your pediatrician to be sure that baby (and you) are ready for the next step.
Here are some signs that your baby is ready for solids:
• Head control. Your baby must be able to keep his/her head in a steady, upright position.
• Losing the “extrusion reflex.” To keep solid food in his/her mouth and then swallow it, your baby needs to stop using his tongue to push food out of his mouth.
• Sitting well when supported. Even if he or she is not quite ready for a highchair, your baby needs to be able to sit upright to swallow properly.
• Chewing motions. Your baby’s mouth and tongue develop in sync with his/her digestive system. To start solids, he or she should be able to move food to the back of the mouth and swallow. As he or she learns to swallow efficiently, you may notice less drooling. (Unless baby is teething around the same time.)
• Significant weight gain. Most babies are ready to eat solids when they’ve doubled their birth weight (or weigh about 15 pounds) and are at least 4 months old.
• Growing appetite. Baby seems hungry — even with eight to ten feedings of breast milk or formula a day.
• Curiosity about what you’re eating. Your baby may begin eyeing your food enviously as it travels from your plate to your mouth.
Kristen Kardos, MA Ed., and Kathy McGuigan, MSW, the co-founders of RI New Moms Connection provide affordable, accessible pregnancy and new mom groups throughout Rhode Island. In “New Moms Tips” they share their knowledge, resources, and helpful ideas for moms just beginning their journey into parenthood or moms that may need a little refresher.
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