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 baby. They're about to embark on an exciting journey of discovering new tastes and textures. And this is a prime time to lay the foundations of healthy eating habits for the rest of baby's life. But how do you know when your baby is ready for that milestone of starting solids?
Although many babies are ready around 6 months of age, every baby is different. Babies aren't all ready for solids when they've reached a certain age or weight. Instead, babies will show certain developmental signs that will clue you in that they may be ready for solids. Today, we'll cover 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.
It's ok if baby still needs some support (propping) to sit up. But they'll need to hold their head up well on their own to safely eat solids. So, make sure they can independently hold their head up, for long periods of time.
3. Baby can grasp objects.
Whether they're grasping a rattle, reaching for your glasses, or even grabbing your spoon or fork (see below), 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 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, they probably aren't ready for solids.
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. They don't have to have all these skills perfectly mastered, but they should have the foundations for these skills.
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.
Learn more cues and how to introduce solids to your baby from this American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) video:
Once you've determined that your baby is ready for solids, what steps should you take during weaning?
We've got you covered with these articles:
- 8 Rules for Introducing Solids
- 9 Tips for Introducing Solid Foods
- Baby-Led Weaning (one method of introducing solids, where baby feeds themself)
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