Curious if your baby is too young to start eating solids? Keep reading to hear one mom’s story and learn the common signs of readiness.
I remember my daughter being around four months old, and I was thinking about starting her on solids. But was she actually ready?
Many of my friends who had children around four months were beginning to feed their babies food, and my pediatrician told me in our visit that I could start offering her some baby food if I wanted to. Keep reading to discover what I learned.
Evaluating my daughter’s cues at four months
I could tell that my daughter was interested in what I was eating. She would reach for my food if I were eating next to her and looked so excited to see what mom put in her mouth.
The enthusiasm of starting solids for her and I was definitely there. Starting solids really is such an exciting time.
I was also feeling a little bit anxious.
Up until this point, I was solely breastfeeding, and I felt like we had finally established a good routine. I didn’t really know how to start her on solids and questions kept coming up in my mind.
- What food do I start with?
- How much do I give her?
- How do I incorporate food into her breastfeeding schedule?
- But the main question I kept having repeatedly was, is her little body ready for solids?
I wanted to make sure that her digestive system was ready to handle something other than breastmilk and that the small amount of food she would begin to eat was packed with nutrients that were important for her development.
It wasn’t until I became a certified nutrition consultant for babies that I learned about the developmental signs of readiness when starting solids for your little one.
Is my four month-old ready for food?
In 2002, the World Health Organization recommended that starting solids be changed from 4-6 months to six months. The American Academy of Pediatrics and several other health organizations stand behind this recommendation that babies exclusively breastfeed/formula feed for the first six months of life.
The recommendations have been written like this because, typically, most babies are ready to be introduced to solids.
It is important not to fixate upon a certain age, but more importantly, observe developmental signs of readiness and trust your gut instincts.Madison Holden
However, it is important not to fixate upon a certain age, but more importantly, observe developmental signs of readiness and trust your gut instincts. Some babies might meet signs of development around 5 ½ months, and other babies might show developmental signs around seven months.
Fortunately for us, there are recognizable indicators that determine developmental signs of readiness, helping us know when our little one is ready to begin solids.
Worried about choking?
If you’re nervous about your baby choking, consider investing in a life-saving de-choking device to keep in an easy-to-reach place while you and your baby learn to navigate solids.
It’s also essential to learn to spot the difference between choking and gagging to know when to jump into action or when to let your baby figure it out on their own.
The five signs your baby is ready for solids
1. Can sit upright while unsupported
The first sign of readiness for solids is that your little one should be able to sit upright unsupported or with little help.
Because we can’t look inside their tummies to see if their digestive tract is mature enough for solids, we can use this sign of readiness to look at their core strength. Sitting upright while unsupported is a great way to gauge how strong their digestive system muscles are and if they’re developed enough for food.
Now, your little one might topple over a little bit, but they should be able to support themselves in a seated position for a period of time without the assistance of something like a Bumbo or a highchair with thick padding.
2. Can turn head left and right
Your little one can turn their head, which will aid in demonstrating a sign of fullness and that they have had enough to eat.
Similar to how a baby stops breastfeeding or finishing a bottle when they are full, we want to make sure that our little ones can demonstrate signs that they are finished with food as well.
3. Tongue-thrust reflex disappears
The third sign of readiness for solids is that your little one has lost their tongue-thrust reflex. This means that a baby does not automatically push solids out of their mouth with their tongue.
The tongue-thrust reflux is a way babies protect themselves from choking.
4. Pincer grasp is developed
Your little one is starting to develop their “pincer” grasp. This is when a baby picks up food or other objects between the thumb and forefinger, not just the palm of their hands. This takes time and practice.
5. A genuine interest is shown
The final sign of readiness for solids is that your baby is showing an interest in mealtime. They are excited to join and might even try to grab your food and eat it. This is usually the first and most common sign of developmental readiness.
Final thoughts on starting solids with your baby
Understanding and recognizing signs of developmental readiness for starting solids will help you find the answers to the questions that might run through your mind. Starting solids is a huge milestone for your baby, one that should be celebrated.
So, grab your highchair and your baby and begin this journey with confidence.