Your Baby and the 411 on Solid Foods

Here are the top 5 signs it might be time for your baby to go beyond breast milk or formula.

Posted on | Comments ()

By The Bump Editors for TheBump.comThe Bump

Introducing your baby to solids can be an exciting time for both you and the little guy. It can also be quite a scary time, if your little one isn’t developmentally ready. That’s why it’s always important to stay in tune with your baby’s milestones and developmental cues, and not jump into starting solids just because of how old she is.

So, when’s the right time to start? Typically, your baby will start giving you signs that she’s ready to add some solids into her diet around 6 months old. At this time, she should be able to play an active part in the feeding process. But regardless of age, here are some general indicators that your baby is developmentally ready to start moving onto more than just formula or breast milk:

  • She is sitting up (either assisted or unassisted) and holding her head up straight
  • She opens her mouth for a spoon and closes her lips over the spoon
  • She is able to let you know that she is either full or hungry (turns head away from spoon if full or keeps mouth open if still hungry). This is important so that baby learns to self-regulate the amount of food that she eats.
  • She keeps her tongue low and flat when you put the spoon in her mouth
  • She is showing an interest in food that others around her are eating

If you can say "yes" to all of the above, baby’s digestive track is probably ready to handle more complex foods, since the enzymes in her stomach are usually mature enough to break down and digest solids by this stage of development. But remember, now that you’re branching out into real foods, it’s time to pay attention to the extra nutritional needs baby has now that she’s maturing. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a 6-month-old baby may need additional iron that can be extracted from the nutrients in various solid foods, like the iron-fortified cereals; so make sure to wait at least 4 to 7 days in between new foods for signs or symptoms of any allergies. Of course, transitioning your baby into solids doesn’t mean formula or breast milk have to be cut out completely. Many experts advise keeping breast milk as the main source of nutrition for the first year of your baby’s life.

More from

Feeding baby: Everything you need to know
New mom? Get the real deal on post-birth recovery

© 2011, Inc. All rights reserved.
Photo: The Bump