When to Start Solid Food

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When to Start Solid Food and Signs of Solid Food Readiness

How do you know when to start solid food?

It’s not coincidental that many of the physical skills necessary to embark on solid food feeding are reached at right about the same time that babies can rise to the occasion. And just when breast milk or formula consumption often isn’t enough to tide them over, their digestive systems become ready to take on the challenge of solid foods. When your baby learns to master the following mealtime milestones, she is likely to be ready, willing, and able to start out on her feeding adventure.

  • Hold Her Head Up High. Although some babies are able to lift their heads in a show of strength from the day they are born, it’s usually not until 3 or 4 months of age that the ability to hold one’s head up consistently higher and for longer periods sets in.
  • Sitting Pretty. Babies typically start sitting—albeit initially with a fair bit of propping—at about 6 months of age. Fortunately, several modern-day high chairs and feeding chairs come with convenient recline features that offer additional support for those not quite ready to sit fully upright on their own.
  • Big Enough to Take It. As a rough rule of thumb, babies are big enough to tackle solid foods right around the time when they double their birth weight and reach a minimum of about 13 pounds.
  • Open Wide. As babies become more aware of the world around them, they also tend to become more interested in food—often watching food intently and opening their mouths in eager anticipation when they see some headed their way.
Author Laura A. Jana, MD, FAAP and Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP
Last Updated 11/21/2015
Source Food Fights, 2nd Edition (Copyright © 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.