Introducing Solids: Signs of Readiness

Baby girl eating pureed food with mom

Read time: 4 minutes

What should I know about my baby’s readiness for solid foods?

  • Know when your baby is ready for solid foods
  • Understanding how solids and breastmilk or formula work together during the first year of life
  • Learn how to safely start introducing solid foods

Research shows it is beneficial to start introducing solid foods when your baby is around six months, regardless of whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed (or a combination).1,2 The six month mark is a sweet spot for continuing to provide essential nutrition and hydration from breastmilk, formula or both; while introducing additional nutrients for your growing baby.2, 3

You may be eager to jump into the eating stage, but feeding your baby solids before baby is ready can turn an otherwise fun milestone into a frustrating activity for both you and your child. It’s important to wait until your baby shows the appropriate feeding cues and abilities.1,4,5,6

So as your baby nears six months, what should you look for to determine whether they’re ready to start eating? Let’s take a deeper dive to find out.

Signs your baby is ready to start solids

Here are readiness cues to watch for:

  1. Your baby should have good head control and be able to sit up with very little support in their own high chair.
  2. Your little one shows interest in food. Opening their mouth and leaning forward when food is offered. Baby may make chewing motions and bring their hands to their mouth, or even reach for your food.
  3. While feeding, watch to see that your baby can close their lips over the spoon, keep food in their mouth (ok, at least some of the food), and swallow. Babies may just push food out of their mouth at first until they learn how to move food back along the tongue to swallow.1,4, 5, 6

*Always chat with your pediatrician before starting solids with your baby.

What if my baby is not ready to eat solid foods yet?

If your little one closes their mouth, turns their head, and just seems disinteresting in eating, stop introducing solids for a few days and then try again. Some babies take to solids right away, advancing textures and increasing amounts quickly, while others take a little more time.1, 7

Know that waiting a little longer for your baby to be ready to start solids is usually just fine. However, studies indicate that waiting too long (usually beyond 7 months) may cause longer term issues, such as difficulty accepting solids, difficulty learning to chew, or even vomiting.6, 16, 17 Speak with your baby’s pediatrician if your little one isn’t taking to solids after about 7 months.

Once your little one is ready for solids, continue to offer solids on a regular basis to help your little one learn to eat and get used to new flavors and textures.9

Read more: Introducing Solids: First Foods and Textures

How much breastmilk or formula should baby take once they start eating solid foods?

Eating solids at this early stage is mostly about letting your baby explore new flavors and textures and less about getting in calories. Breastmilk or formula will remain your child’s primary source of nutrition for most of their first year of life.1

As your little one gets closer to a year, they will begin to take in less breastmilk and/or formula while also eating more solid foods.6

Learn about: Making Your Own Baby Food

Make every bite count

Since your little one isn’t able to eat very efficiently or very much right now, it’s important to make every bite count when it comes to solids.6, 7

Choose a wide variety of healthy foods across each food group for mealtimes.  Grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats are all options for first foods as long as they are in a texture your little one can handle!1, 7

Be sure to trial only one new food at a time and watch for reactions over a couple days before introducing another new food.1, 7, 5

Don’t forget to have fun with feeding, letting your little one play with and explore their foods, get messy, and allowing them set the pace!14

Read more: Nutrient Needs and Feeding Tips for 6 to 12 Month Olds

Check out our Infant Nutrition: Starting Solids Chart

Tips for getting started introducing solid foods to your baby

Have baby sit in a supported, upright position

Provide a supportive seat or highchair, with a safety strap, so your baby can comfortably eat in a safe, upright position. Always supervise your little one while they eat to help them remain upright while feeding as well as to help prevent choking.

Don’t forget about introducing allergens

New research indicates that introducing major allergens early – when your little one is ready to start solids – may help prevent allergies and eczema.10, 11

To do so safely, speak with baby’s pediatrician about any allergies in your family and how to begin introducing allergens to your little one.

Read more: Introducing Major Allergens

Do not add food to a bottle

Unless directed by your pediatrician, do not add cereal or other foods to a bottle. This feeding practice may be a choking hazard and add calories to your baby’s diet that they do not need.12, 13

Choose a feeding method you’re most comfortable with 

Traditional spoon-feeding of purees as well as baby led weaning can both options when it comes to feeding your little one. Learn more about each method below:

Introducing Solids: Purees versus Baby Led Weaning

Introducing Solids: First Foods and Textures

Introducing Solids: Baby Led Weaning

 Remember: Parents provide, children decide

When it comes to eating, your baby’s hunger and fullness cues are most important. Your job is to provide your little one with healthy foods while it’s their job to decide how much (if any!) they want to eat.6, 7, 15

Following this guideline will help make mealtime less stressful and help your little one build a healthy relationship with food right from the start.

Learn about: Understanding Your Baby’s Hunger and Fullness Cues: Responsive Feeding

Read more: The Division of Responsibility: Helping Avoid Picky Eating

Let’s Chat!

We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.

Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitians certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday – Friday 8am-8pm (EST), and Saturday – Sunday 8am-4pm (EST). Chat Now!

Read more about the experts that help write our content!

For more on this topic, check out the following articles:

Introducing Solids: First food and advancing textures

Introducing Solids: Different Approaches and Strategies

Preventing choking

Choosing Store Bought Baby Food

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