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7 Steps to Successful Baby-Led Weaning


We’ve written about the basics of baby-led weaning before — what it is, why some people prefer it, and whether or not you should try it with your baby. If you need a good, foundational understanding of those basics, check out this “What is Baby-Led Weaning?” post.

Here, we’ll explore 7 steps to get started successfully with baby-led weaning (or BLW). As with anything else in life, planning and preparation is a key part to getting off on the right foot with baby-led weaning. So use our 7 steps below, and start your baby-led weaning journey today!

7 Steps to Successful Baby-Led Weaning

1. Educate yourself.

Before you embark on something brand new, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about it. Same goes for baby-led weaning. Here are a few resources to help you educate yourself about all things BLW:

2. Don’t start too soon.

While it’s possible to start spoon-feeding your baby purees before she’s six months (although it’s not recommended), you really can’t start BLW until the 6 month mark. It’s generally recommended that you wait to start until your baby is able to sit up unassisted (meaning he doesn’t need to lean against the back of the highchair for support.) Some babies are able to do that at 6 months; many don’t develop that skill until later.

If the idea of waiting until your baby’s 6 months or older has you feeling anxious (“But doesn’t he need to eat solid food?”), take heart. Remember that “food is fun before age one!” In other words, for the first year of life, breastmilk and/or formula is your baby’s primary source of nutrition. Food is for practice. As long as your little one is nursing or taking his bottles well, he’s likely getting the nourishment he needs.

3. Start big and small.

Yes, that’s a contradiction in terms. 😉 Here’s what we mean…

Start Small
In the beginning, offer one “meal” a day. You don’t want to overwhelm your baby with food right off the bat! And offer the meal between nursings or bottle feedings; this’ll ensure that your baby isn’t so hungry that she quickly becomes frustrated.

Place very little food on your baby’s highchair tray — a few pieces at most. Remember, she’s new to this! Having a few pieces of food will be less distracting and will help her focus on learning to feed herself.

Start Big
In the beginning, offer large pieces of food. That might seem counter-intuitive (“Won’t my baby choke?”), but this is the safest way to start. At 6 or 7 months, your baby won’t have developed his pincer grip and won’t be able to pick up small pieces of food. Instead, you’ll want to give him large chunks of food that he can pick up and gnaw on. Think whole carrots, whole apples, long strips of meat, etc. Later, once his pincer grip is developed, you can move to small pieces of food that he’ll put into his mouth whole.

4. Don’t offer (much) help.

The biggest difference between BLW and traditional methods of starting solids is that BLW puts control in the hands of your baby, right from the beginning. Instead of you feeding your baby, your baby starts off by feeding herself.

A general BLW rule of thumb is that you should never put food into your baby’s mouth for her. You can help guide her hand (filled with food) to her mouth, and you can mime the chewing and swallowing motions you want her to do, but you shouldn’t be the one actually feeding her.

5. Supervise, supervise, supervise!

Now, just because you’re not feeding him doesn’t mean you should set a few celery stalks on your baby’s highchair tray and then walk away. Remember, one of the goals of BLW is to reinforce that mealtime is a social time. Sit with your baby while he eats (and even better, eat something yourself!)

You’ll also want to stick close to watch for gagging and choking. Lots of babies gag in the early stages of BLW, and while this is a normal and safe reaction, you’ll still want to be nearby to ensure that your baby isn’t actually choking.

6. Work in the utensils (eventually).

Once your baby has gotten good at hand-feeding himself, start incorporating a spoon into his meals. Offer him a dish of something “spoon-able” (like applesauce or yogurt) and a spoon, and see what he does!

At first, he’ll probably get far more food on himself (and the walls, and the floor) than he’ll get in his mouth. But as long as you give him lots of opportunity practice, you’ll find that he gets better and better at feeding himself with utensils.

7. Embrace the mess, friends!

In case you haven’t come to this conclusion yet, let us offer it here: BLW is a sticky, goopy, drippy, messy process. Food is messy after all; hand it to a novice with no self-feeding experience, and it becomes exponentially messier!

But this is okay. It’s part of the learning. Instead of trying to avoid the mess, embrace it. Arm yourself with a high-chair that’s easy to wipe clean. Feed baby in a room that has wipe-able flooring. Consider stripping baby down to his diaper at meal time (if it’s warm enough), or wrapping her in a large, cover-all style bib.

Everything You Need To Know About Starting Solids – All In One e-Book!

thumbnailWhat if you could find everything you needed to know about starting your baby on solid foods – when it’s best to start solids, how to introduce solids, complications, food allergies, etc. – in one easy-reference guide? Now you can! Your Baby’s Start To Solid Foods: A Comprehensive Guide will walk you through every step of starting solids. Plus, your e-Book package includes several bonus materials, designed to maximize your success in starting solids. You’ll get a thorough guide to treating constipation, a dietitian’s advice on how to avoid 5 common solid-foods mistakes, and a weekly mean plan for your baby’s first year. Grab your e-Book today, and ensure your baby has the healthiest possible start to solid foods!

Anything to add? What steps have you taken to do baby-led weaning with your baby?

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What To Do If Your Baby Is Refusing Solid Food

We’ve talked already about what to do if you suspect that you’re feeding your baby too much solid food. But what if you have the opposite problem? What if no amount of coaxing or pleading or “here comes the airplane!” maneuvering can get your baby to eat a bite of food?

What should you do if your baby flat-out refuses to eat solid food?

Baby Refusing Solids? Don’t Panic!

First, don’t worry — just because your baby hates solids right now definitely doesn’t mean he’ll hate them forever! Some babies simply resist all the “newness” that comes with starting solids — new tastes, new textures, etc. After all, up to this point, your baby has known ONE taste, and ONE texture — the taste and texture of breastmilk or formula.

Second, remember that when you first introduce solid foods to your baby, she’s mainly just “practicing” with food. Breastmilk or formula is still her primary source of nutrition, so if she’s totally rejecting the pureed peas you painstakingly prepared, it’s okay. 🙂 She needs breastmilk or formula more than she needs vegetables, at this point!

4 Things to Try If Your Baby Is Refusing Solids

Still, you want your baby to learn to love solids; eventually, that’ll be all he eats! If you find that your baby is resisting solids in a big way, try putting one of these four tips into practice:

  1. Try different foods. Does she hate rice cereal? Try applesauce! Does he despise peas? Try avocado! When you try a variety of foods, you’re more likely to find something he’ll like. Consider offering him pureed or chopped table food, too (if allergies aren’t a concern) — some moms find that baby will eat if he’s having what everyone else is having.
  2. Encourage her to do it herself. If your baby’s old enough (8 or 9 months), encourage her to feed herself. It could be that your baby hates mashed bananas on a spoon but adores tiny piece of banana that she feeds herself. Sometimes, being in control is all it takes for a baby who’s refusing solids to suddenly start eating with gusto.
  3. Get creative! Try having someone else feed him. Try feeding him at different times during the day. Try feeding him in different settings — he may refuse to eat in the highchair but will eat just fine while sitting on dad’s lap! It could be that a small change like this prompts him to get interested in eating.
  4. Give up (for a few weeks, that is!) If all else fails, don’t be afraid to give up for a few weeks. This isn’t a battle to be won, after all, and if your baby senses your frustration (or desperation!) she may be even less inclined to eat. Instead, take a break and try again later. You might be surprised at the difference a few weeks makes!

If you try the strategies above with no success, or if you’re concerned that your baby’s refusal to eat may be a sign of something more serious, consult with a healthcare provider to make sure your baby isn’t suffering from an underlying medical condition.

Everything You Need To Know About Starting Solids – All In One e-Book!

thumbnailWhat if you could find everything you needed to know about starting your baby on solid foods – when it’s best to start solids, how to introduce solids, complications, food allergies, etc. – in one easy-reference guide? Now you can! Your Baby’s Start To Solid Foods: A Comprehensive Guide will walk you through every step of starting solids. Plus, your e-Book package includes several bonus materials, designed to maximize your success in starting solids. You’ll get a thorough guide to treating constipation, a dietitian’s advice on how to avoid 5 common solid-foods mistakes, and a weekly mean plan for your baby’s first year. Grab your e-Book today, and ensure your baby has the healthiest possible start to solid foods!

Is your baby a “solids-hater?” How have you coped? How have you encouraged your little one to eat? Share your tips and tricks below!

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What Is Baby-Led Weaning?


We’re tackling a topic today that you may or may not have heard about: baby-led weaning. What is it? What are the benefits? Is it something you should try with your baby? We’ll explore all those questions in this post.

First, though, let’s clear up a misconception about the term itself. The “weaning” part of baby-led weaning refers to the British definition of the word — in the U.K., “weaning” means “adding complementary foods.” It doesn’t mean “giving up breastfeeding or bottle feeding”, which is how those of us in the U.S. would use the term.

What is Baby-Led Weaning?

This is really simple.  Baby-led weaning refers to letting your baby feed herself small chunks of food right off the bat.  No runny purees.  No bowls and spoons (at first).  Just pieces of food, offered to your baby, and she takes it from there.

With baby-led weaning, you don’t feed your baby. She feeds herself. She decides what, and how much, to eat. Basically, baby-led weaning puts feeding in the hands (literally!) of your baby, and not you.

Baby-Led Weaning: The Philosophy Behind It

Baby-led weaning (a term coined by Gill Rapley, a former mid-wife) is based on the idea that babies aren’t really ready for food until they’re around 6 months old. Once they’re 6 months, though, most babies are ready to start feeding themselves.

Advocates of baby-led weaning point out that our babies know better than we do what they want to eat, and how much they want to eat. They also know when they’re ready to eat. So rather than we (the parents) setting arbitrary starting dates for introducing solids, and pushing “mush” (as they call it) on our little ones, it makes more sense to put “real” food in front of baby and let him take care of the rest.

Common Questions About Baby-Led Weaning

The practice of baby-led weaning definitely isn’t mainstream; most of us automatically think about jars of baby food and tiny baby spoons when we think about starting our babies on solids.

So understandably, lots of parents have questions about baby-led weaning — questions like:

  • Do I just give my baby food and then walk away? No, that’s not the idea. It’s true that you, the parent, shouldn’t put food into your baby’s mouth or feed him yourself, but you should be nearby to help encourage him as he eats.  You can help him guide the food to his mouth, and you can make sure he doesn’t choke (more on that next.)
  • Won’t my baby choke?!  That’s a very normal concern with baby-led weaning; it seems downright dangerous to give a 6 month old baby a big hunk of apple to gnaw on, doesn’t it? But baby-led weaning advocates assert that using this technique, babies learn to chew very early on, whereas babies who are spoon-fed purees learn to swallow first and to chew later.  So choking is no more a concern with this technique, they say, than it is with a more traditional approach to starting solids.People who’ve tried this method also point out that gagging is different than choking. Gagging is a baby’s response to swallowing a large lump of something, and it’s a normal, safe reaction.  I know my children all did this when they were little and were first eating solids. Choking, on the other hand, happens when a piece of food actually blocks baby’s airway, and it’s dangerous.  Parents who try baby-led weaning may notice gagging, but that’s not the same as true choking.
  • Is it healthy? You may wonder if allowing your baby to choose his own foods, and to eat as much (or as little) as he wants, is a healthy approach to starting solids.  After all, will your baby really choosepeas? And what if he’s not eating much? Should you encourage him to eat more?Research actually suggests that baby-led weaning is a healthy alternative to more traditional methods of starting solids — in fact, it may be a slightly healthier way to go, according to a recent study. More on that in a moment.

Baby-Led Weaning: The Benefits

According to those who’ve tried it, baby-led weaning has a few key benefits:

  • It makes starting solids less stressful. If you have a baby who’s resistant to solid food, you know how stressful starting solids can be! Baby-led weaning eliminates some of that stress — your baby eats when he wants to and stops eating when he’s done. Since your baby takes the initiative, eating happens on his terms. And basic psychology tells us that when a child (or an adult, for that matter!) feels like something is his idea, and that he’s in control, he’s much more likely to respond well.What’s more, baby-led weaning eliminates some of the work for mom and dad, making mealtimes easier for everyone. If baby’s busy feeding herself, that frees you up to enjoy your own dinner.
  • It follows a more “natural” progression. I’m not suggesting there’s anything unnatural about spoon-feeding your baby purees. Not at all! But the way we traditionally introduce solids to babies today (spoon-feeding runny purees) is fairly new. For most of history, our ancestors have practiced a version of baby-led weaning. They waited until the baby was big enough to sit up, to chew, and to grab food; then, they offered baby small bits of what everyone else was eating.  Seen in that light, baby-led weaning seems less like a new-fangled practice and more like a return to older practices.
  • It’s healthy. As mentioned earlier, a study published in April 2012 by the BMJ Group revealed that baby-led weaning may be a slightly healthier way to start your baby on solids. It seems that babies who’ve experienced baby-led weaning tend to choose healthier options; they also tend to have healthier BMI’s than babies who are spoon-fed (perhaps because their appetites guide their eating.

Should I Try Baby-Led Weaning With My Baby?

To baby-led wean or not to baby-led wean? The choice is yours, of course. It’s probably best if you talk to a healthcare provider about your options; your HCP will be able to steer you towards the healthiest choice for your family.

Considering baby-led weaning? Here are some good resources to check out:

Everything You Need To Know About Starting Solids – All In One e-Book!

thumbnailWhat if you could find everything you needed to know about starting your baby on solid foods – when it’s best to start solids, how to introduce solids, complications, food allergies, etc. – in one easy-reference guide? Now you can! Your Baby’s Start To Solid Foods: A Comprehensive Guide will walk you through every step of starting solids. Plus, your e-Book package includes several bonus materials, designed to maximize your success in starting solids. You’ll get a thorough guide to treating constipation, a dietitian’s advice on how to avoid 5 common solid-foods mistakes, and a weekly mean plan for your baby’s first year. Grab your e-Book today, and ensure your baby has the healthiest possible start to solid foods!

Have you tried baby-led weaning? What were your experiences? If not, is it something you’d consider? Share your thoughts!

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8 Most Common Baby First Foods

When it comes to starting your baby on solids, a question parents ask themselves (aside from how and when to start) is, “What foods should I start with?” After all, your baby hasn’t tasted anything but breastmilk or formula up to this point; whatever foods you offer first are going to have a big impact!

There are a few rules when it comes to what foods you should feed your baby first. Avoid any allergenic foods (like milk, eggs, tomatoes, nut butters, etc.) Think about textures, too; whatever foods you start your baby on should be smooth, runny, and pretty lump-free. So raw carrots are out. 😉 And you’ll want to start with foods that are easy for your baby to digest. Avoid things that’ll cause gas (like broccoli) or that are highly acidic (like tomatoes and strawberries).

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the 8 most common “first foods” for baby, along with a few words about each. This list is in no particular order. What’s more, this list isn’t meant to be a rigid, inflexible guide; you don’t have to start with these foods! Simply use this list as a guide to help you create the “menus” for your baby’s first few weeks of  meals.

  1. Rice Cereal

    This is the #1 most common first food for babies, for a few reasons.  It’s bland, so babies usually don’t reject it based on its taste.  Its texture makes it easy for babies to swallow.  And it’s easy to digest, making it a good first option.

  2. Oatmeal Cereal

    Once babies have mastered rice cereal, many parents move on to oatmeal.  Like rice cereal, oatmeal is fairly bland and smooth.

  3. Applesauce

    Applesauce is smooth and easy to swallow, making it a good first food.  And since babies tend to prefer sweet flavors, it’s usually a baby favorite 🙂  Plus, it’s easy to find sugar-free applesauce at the supermarket, making it an inexpensive choice.

  4. Bananas

    Many parents love the convenience of serving mashed bananas — they’re easy to mash, and since they’re already soft and don’t need cooking, they provide a great way to feed your little one fresh fruit.  What’s more, bananas are easy for tiny tummies to digest.

  5. Avocados

    Avocados are great first foods for many of the same reasons as bananas — they’re easy to mash, they’re soft and easy to eat when they’re fresh, and they’re highly digestible.  And you can feel good knowing that each time you feed your baby avocados, you’re offering her heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

  6. Pears

    Pears are fiber-rich and delicious; they can also help relieve constipation and reflux.

  7. Sweet Potato

    Sweet Potatoes are a fantastic first food for baby.  They’re packed with vitamins and minerals, they’re easy to digest, and babies usually love their naturally sweet flavor.

  8. Squash

    Winter squash, like butternut and acorn squash, is delicious and nutritious.  And squashes tend to produce smooth, runny purees — all the more reason to make it one of the first foods you offer to your baby!

Of course, you can buy commercial, prepared versions of all the food above; you certainly don’t have to make your own baby food.  But if you decide you want to try making your baby’s food yourself, check our our recipes for homemade cereal, homemade fruit purees, and homemade veggie purees.

You may also want to check our our Types and Amounts of Solid Foods By Age charts, for more information on what first foods are best for your baby.

What foods did you introduce to your baby first?  Share your list of first foods below!

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How To Introduce Solid Foods To Your Baby

So you now know when to start your baby on solid foods, and you may have decided that the time is now — your baby’s ready!  Now, it’s time to feed your little one solids for the first time.  But that can be easier said than done.  How should you introduce solids?  What foods should you begin with?  Cereal?  Fruits and Veggies?  Help!

Introducing Solids:  What Should Be Your Baby’s First Foods?

When it comes to introducing solids, infant cereals (particularly rice cereal) are traditionally recommended as the best first foods for baby.  These make great starting foods because their texture is soft and smooth, and their taste is fairly bland.  They can also be mixed with formula or breastmilk, making their flavor familiar to baby and making the transition to solids even easier.  Finally, infant cereals are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction, and they’re fortified with iron (something babies start needing more of around 6 months of age).

However, research has shown that cereal is not always the best starting food for babies.  Today, some health experts recommend starting with fruits and vegetables (pureed, of course), or substituting whole grain oatmeal for powdered infant cereal. They suggest that bananas, avocado, or sweet potatoes are excellent first foods, since they’re sweet (like breastmilk) and easy to mash.

In general, it’s best to delay the introduction of allergy-causing foods (see below) and start with foods that are considered safe for your 4-6 month old baby (like the ones listed above). Of course, all babies are different and we’ve heard of babies being allergic to even banana. This is rare, but you will want to take it slow with any new foods (see “4 day rule” below)!

Introducing Solids:  What About Food Allergies and Eczema?

Food allergies can make any mom worry, but you may be particularly concerned if you have a family history of food allergies or of eczema (a skin condition that can be an indicator of food allergies.)  If that’s the case, you will want to be even more careful about watching for allergic reactions in your baby or how you introduce new foods to your baby.

Regardless of whether or not your family has as history of food allergies, it’s recommended that you introduce individual foods one at a time.  In other words, don’t mix peas and carrots together if both are brand new foods for your baby.  Offer them separately.  What’s more, you should follow the “4 Day Rule”:  wait about 4 days in between introducing a new food to your baby. That will give you time to see if an allergic reaction develops, and it’ll help you better determine which food is responsible for the reaction.  And if food allergies run in your family, be especially careful to introduce foods this way. You don’t have to delay introducing any foods – the old “rule” to introduce typically allergenic foods like peanuts and shellfish after 12 months of age no longer applies. However, if you are introducing an allergenic food – especially if a history of such allergies runs in your family – observe your baby closely after offering that particular food.

Food Sensitivities/Intolerances vs. Food Allergies

Keep in mind, too, that while your baby may not develop a true food allergy, he may have some food sensitivities or food intolerances.  Food sensitivities and intolerances are more common than true food allergies.  For instance, true milk allergies aren’t that common, but milk sensitivities and intolerances are.

In addition, The symptoms of food sensitivities and intolerances are usually less severe than true food allergies.  For example, after eating a new food, you might notice that your baby has a night of poor or restless sleep.  Or you might notice that he seems gassy after eating something new.  These can be signs of a food intolerance.

For more information about food intolerances/sensitivities, and how they’re different from true food allergies, check out this article on mayoclinic.com.

Introducing Solids:  Should I Still Breastfeed/Bottle Feed?

Oh, yes!  The fact that your baby is eating solids now doesn’t mean you should cut out (or even cut back on) breastmilk or formula.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastmilk or formula be your baby’s primary source of nutrition for the first year.  Therefore, your goal in introducing your baby to solids isn’t to provide her with nutrition that she’s not getting from breastmilk or formula.  Breastmilk and formula still give her all the nutrition she needs.  Rather, you’re introducing solids in order to give her some practice at eating (and eventually feeding herself) solid foods.  To be sure that your baby’s getting enough breastmilk or formula, check out our Amounts of Solid Foods by Age chart; it includes recommended daily amounts.

Keep this in mind as you start feeding your baby solids; if you notice that he’s eating more and drinking less than his required daily amount, reduce the amount of solid food you offer and try to increase his nursing or bottle feeding to ensure that he’s getting enough breastmilk or formula.  Solid food will fill him up (and those extra calories will be necessary as he gets bigger), but it won’t offer the same nutrition as breastmilk or formula.

Introducing Solids:  Slow and Steady is the Way to Go!

A final word about how to introduce solids:  make “slow and steady” your mantra as you introduce your baby to this new way of eating.  Remember, this is a big change for your baby — her eating now involves new tastes, new textures, and new skills on her part (like chewing!)  As with anything new, your baby’s going to need some practice with eating solid food before she gets “good” at it.

So be prepared to be patient.  In the beginning, meals will likely be long and messy.  You may wonder if your baby’s gotten any food in his belly after you see how much he’s managed to smear in his hair and on his face! That’s the fun part! 🙂 Or, you may find that it takes 45 minutes to get finish a few tablespoons of cereal.  But that’s okay!  It’s all part of the learning process.  Slowly, steadily, your baby will figure it out, and eating will be more fun and less work!

Everything You Need To Know About Starting Solids – All In One e-Book!

thumbnailWhat if you could find everything you needed to know about starting your baby on solid foods – when it’s best to start solids, how to introduce solids, complications, food allergies, etc. – in one easy-reference guide? Now you can! Your Baby’s Start To Solid Foods: A Comprehensive Guide will walk you through every step of starting solids. Plus, your e-Book package includes several bonus materials, designed to maximize your success in starting solids. You’ll get a thorough guide to treating constipation, a dietitian’s advice on how to avoid 5 common solid-foods mistakes, and a weekly mean plan for your baby’s first year. Grab your e-Book today, and ensure your baby has the healthiest possible start to solid foods!

How did you introduce your baby to solids? Share your tips!

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How to Know When to Start Your Baby On Solids

When Start Baby on Solids

When your baby was a newborn, your feeding options were pretty straightforward (though maybe not simple):  breast or bottle?  And for awhile, breastmilk and/or formula is all your little one needs to be well-nourished.  But there comes a time when your baby will be ready for a little more, and at that point, you’ll need to introduce solid foods into your baby’s diet.

Introducing solids is a big step (especially for you first-time parents!)  And one of the first questions parents have about solid foods is, “When should I start baby on solid foods?”

When to Start Solids:  Signs Your Baby is Ready for Solids

These physical signs indicate that your baby may be ready to start solids:

  • Your baby has good head control and is able to sit up with support:  This is a big one.  Before starting solids, your baby needs to be able to hold her head up on her own (so that she’s able to swallow), and she needs to be able to sit up straight.
  • Your baby shows an interest in food:  Maybe you’ve noticed your little guy staring at you while you eat dinner, or maybe you’ve caught him reaching out and trying to grab that food right off your fork!  When babies begin showing an interest in food, it may be a sign that they’re ready to start solids.  (Keep in mind, though, that this sign alone doesn’t indicate readiness.  It should appear along with some of the other signs listed here.)
  • Your baby has lost the “tongue-thrust” reflex:  For the first 4 months of your baby’s life, she has a tongue-thrust reflex to protect against choking — when an object ends up on her tongue, she automatically pushes it out of her mouth.  After 4 months, your baby gradually loses this reflex, so that when you put a spoonful of food in her mouth, she’s able to swallow it.
  • Your baby attempts to mash or chew food:  When you put food in his mouth, your baby should automatically mash it with his gums.  If he does, it’s a sign that he’s ready for solids.
  • Your baby lets you know when she’s full:  You may notice that your baby begins to turn away from the bottle or breast when she’s had enough.  This is a sign that she’s able to self-regulate her appetite, which is an important step in being ready to start solids.

When to Start Solids:  What age?

Of course, the calendar can be (and traditionally has been) an indicator of when it’s time to start solids.  Parents (as well as healthcare providers) consider a baby’s age when deciding if it’s best to start solids.  This can be misleading, however, since age recommendations for starting solids have changed over the years.

Decades ago, it wasn’t uncommon for moms to start their babies on solids at a very young age — 1 or 2 months old!  Over the years, however, as medical and nutritional sciences have evolved, moms have been encouraged to wait a little longer before starting solids.  Over time, 4-6 months of age has become the recommended starting place.

Recently, however, the window for starting solids has been pushed back even further; now, experts recommend starting solids closer to 6 months, if possible (some even recommend waiting to start until after 6 months).  There are a number of reasons for this recommendation to delay solids, including:

  • Decreasing the risk of food allergies.
  • Decreasing the risk of future obesity.
  • Decreasing the risk of iron-deficiency anemia.
  • Allowing the baby’s immune and digestive systems more time to mature.

When to Start Solids:  Is “My Baby Seems Hungry” A Good Reason to Start Solids?

So we know some of the signs a baby may show indicating she’s ready to start solids.  And we’ve established the age when it’s best to start (around 6 months).  But often, the number one reason a parent considers starting solids is simply because baby seems hungry.  The baby may begin waking more often at night, or demanding to be nursed/bottle fed more frequently than usual.  This often starts to happen around 4 months of age, and it may seem like a sign that the baby isn’t getting enough to eat and needs something more.

Be cautious about using this as a reason to start solids, however.  Keep in mind that many babies experience a growth spurt around 4 months of age, so that could be the reason your baby is suddenly waking up hungry at night, or needing to nurse more frequently during the day.  Growth spurts don’t last long (around a week or so), so it’s best just to wait these out, before starting your baby on solids.

We need to remember, too, that the famous 4 month sleep regression occurs at this time, too.  So it’s possible that the sudden night waking has nothing to do with hunger and instead has to do with the fact that your baby’s sleep patterns are becoming more like an adult’s.  In this case, starting solids early wouldn’t help your baby sleep, simply because it’s not hunger that’s causing her to wake in the first place.

Based on this, it’s best to avoid starting solids before 5 or 6 months of age, even if your baby seems hungrier than usual around 4 months.  Instead, we recommend that you increase your nursing, or offer more bottles during the day and continue to feed as necessary at night.

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When did you start your baby on solids?  How did you know your baby was ready?  Share your story!

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