Is your baby ready for solid food?

As your child grows, solid pureed/strained foods will initially supplement formula or breast milk rather than replace them. Look for signs of developmental readiness and developmental factors from your child when deciding to start pureed/strained solid food feedings.
Physical Ability
Certain physical markers may indicate that a child is ready for solid foods:
1)      The disappearance of the tongue thrusting forward and pushing food out of the mouth.
2)      Good head and neck control with the ability to turn head away from spoon when full and lean forward to reach spoon when hungry.
3)      The ability to sit up with support.
4)      Doubled birth weight and weighs 13 pounds or more.
5)      Follows objects 6 feet away.
Physiological Capabilities
As your child ages, the ability to digest a wider range of food components improves.  Before 3 months of age, an infant’s digestive tract cannot readily digest starch. Also, kidney function is limited until about 4-6 weeks of age and will have difficulty getting rid of excessive amounts of dietary protein. Other cues would be the consumption of greater than 32 fl. oz. of formula or breastfeeding more than 8-10 times within 24 hours.
Nutritional Need
After 6 months of age iron stores are depleted and infant solid foods or iron supplements are then needed.
Allergy Prevention
If the child is exposed too early to some types of proteins (such as those in cow’s milk or egg whites), it may predispose the child to future allergies and other health problems.
While some parents believe the introduction of solid foods will help a child sleep through the night, in reality, this is a developmental milestone, and the amount of food consumed by the child is of little significance to the victory of a good night’s sleep. Also, adding cereal to the child’s bottle without monitoring from a physician and/or dietitian may increase the risk of aspiration, which could lead to pneumonia.
Tell us what you think. When did your baby start solids?
– Andrea Shotton, MD, RD, LD