Health Tips

Having Good Taste: When to Introduce Solid Food

happy infant Before you grab the camera, open up that jar, set your baby in the high chair and get him ready for his first taste of solid food, it’s important to make sure he is old enough for this exciting milestone.

According to a recent study in Pediatrics, many mothers are introducing solid food much earlier than recommended. Forty percent of the study participants offered solid foods to their babies before 4 months of age. There was also a significant difference between women who breastfed and bottle fed. Women who fed their babies formula were more than twice as likely to introduce solid foods too early.

Risks of starting solid foods too early

Many parents think that starting solids would help the child feel full and sleep through the night. There is no truth to this old wives’ tale, and testing it could be harmful to your baby.

Introducing solids may not seem dangerous, but there are significant risks involved. Infants younger than 4 months have not developed the ability to move solid food to the back of their mouths, and they don’t have the coordination needed to place their mouths around a spoon.

Starting solids too early can:

While some experts say that babies are ready for solids between 4 and 6 months, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed their children exclusively for the first six months before introducing solid foods. Breast milk (or formula) should remain as your baby’s primary source of nutrition until age 1.

Here are some signs that your baby is ready for solid foods:

Reviewed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello Jr., MD
Date: April 2013

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