Most infants are ready for solids between the ages of 4 to 6 months. In addition to age, keep an eye on these signs that indicate when they might be ready:
- They are able to sit in a high chair and have good head control.
- They show interest in what the rest of the family is eating by eyeing and/or grabbing at their food items.
A first food
An easy first food is an iron-fortified infant cereal like oats or barley while avoiding rice due to concerns for arsenic. Cereal can be mixed with breast milk, formula, or water and spoon-fed. Start with a few bites once they have finished breastfeeding or taking their bottle. Don’t worry if you notice that they are pushing most of the food out with their tongue: either try a thinner consistency or wait a few weeks to try again.
Taking it slow
During this time, most of their nutrients are still coming from breast milk or formula so don’t worry if it takes a while for your infant to adapt to solid foods. Try to be patient, have fun, and follow their lead — making sure to take a break if it becomes more frustrating than fun. It is recommended to try one new food for several days to ensure that they tolerate it and do not show any signs of a reaction. It may take over 10-15 different tries over a period of time for your infant to decide if they like it.
Graduating past the spoon
After a couple of months, your infant can graduate to finger foods. At this stage in their development, they are able to start using the tips of their fingers to grab things. Eating with the family can become more interactive and your infant will look to family members as role models.
Some good foods are eggs or peanuts (usually in the form of butters or puffs) when they are ready for that texture. Foods such as cow’s milk or honey are not recommended until they are at least one year old.
Most importantly, keep these in mind:
- Trial and error – watch, listen, and see how they respond to new textures and new foods – they will let you know if they are not ready.
- Patience – new foods may need to be introduced several times. During this time, they are also observing you and other family members as to what to expect at meal times.
- Enjoy! – have fun with this as you are leading your infant through exploring a new part of their world.