How do you know if your baby is ready for solids? It’s all about developmental readiness, not age. Here are the top 7 developmental signs that your baby is ready for solids.
Starting solids (also called weaning) is an exciting milestone for you and your baby. They’re about to embark on a journey of discovering new tastes and textures. But how do you know when your baby is ready for that milestone of starting solids?
Although many babies are ready around 6 months, every baby is different. Not all babies are all ready for solids when they’ve reached a certain age or weight. Instead, pay attention to your little one’s developmental signs to clue you in that they may be ready for solids. We’ll take you through the top 7 telltale signs that your baby is ready to explore solid foods.
1. Baby’s tongue reflex has changed
Babies are born with a “tongue-thrusting” reflex that helps them push food out of their mouth, to avoid choking. But once babies are ready for solids, they outgrow this “tongue-thrusting” reflex. At that point, instead of pushing food out of their mouth, their tongue pushes food to the back of their mouth, and they are able to swallow.
How to check if baby has outgrown the reflex? Place a small amount of puree in their mouth. If they keep spitting out the food after several tries, they’re not ready for solids — try again in a few weeks. But if they swallow, they’re likely ready to start their solid food journey.
2. Baby can sit upright, and hold their head up, with little to no support
If baby still needs some support (propping) to sit up that’s OK, but they need to be able to hold their head up well on their own to safely eat solids.
3. Baby can grasp objects
Whether they’re grasping a rattle, reaching for your glasses, or even grabbing your spoon, when baby’s able to grasp objects, that’s a sign that they’re developmentally ready for solids. They don’t need to have a certain type of grasp (like the pincer grasp) mastered. All that matters is that they’re using some type of grasp.
4. Baby is interested in your family’s food
Is your baby eyeing you closely as you munch on your dinner? Are they intently looking at solid foods? Then they’re probably eager to try solid foods of their own. The same goes if they reach for and try to grasp at the food you’re holding — or try to swipe your fork or spoon. They might also imitate the chewing motions, or lip smacking, that they see you make at the table.
5. Baby opens their mouth wide for a spoon
Take an empty spoon and bring it towards your baby’s mouth. If baby excitedly opens their mouth wide for the spoon, and clamps down on it, they’re probably ready to eat solids off that spoon. If baby doesn’t open up their mouth eagerly for the spoon, it’s likely too soon.
6. Baby knows when they’re hungry and when they’re full
When baby isn’t hungry, they should turn away from your breast or the bottle. This is a sign that they’ve started to recognize fullness, a skill they will need to regulate their eating of solid foods.
7. Baby has the needed hand-eye-mouth coordination.
This involves several of the signs we’ve already listed above. Baby needs the coordination and skills to look at the food, grab the food or a spoon, pick up the food or spoon, open their mouth, place the food inside, clamp down on the food, and swallow.
This is especially important if you want to start baby-led weaning, where baby feeds themself. Even if you’re feeding them, if baby has all these skills, it’s a good sign that they’re ready for solids.
Starting at 4-6 months of age, it’s also recommended to introduce allergenic foods, according to new USDA Guidelines.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
Content provided by Ready, Set, Food!. Ready, Set, Food! is a complete guided system that gently introduces your baby to the top 9 most common childhood food allergens, including peanut, egg, and milk.