The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until your child is at least six months old to introduce solid foods into their diet. However, some doctors and organizations still recommend starting your child on solids between four to six months of age. So, it's important to talk to your child's pediatrician about what's right for your baby. For the first year of life, the baby’s primary source of nutrition should be breast milk and formula. Solid food should not replace breast milk or formula as a source of nourishment.
- By the time the baby is four months old, feedings can be stretched out to every three to four hours.
- Breastfed babies will feed more often than formula-fed babies because breast milk digests more quickly than formula.
- At each feeding, your formula-fed baby will be eating approximately four to six ounces. Your breastfed baby, however, won't have such an exact measurement.
- When your infant is around six months old (not before four months), start to introduce a variety of solid foods, starting with iron-rich foods while continuing breastfeeding.
- Regardless of the age, when your baby starts solids, keep breastfeeding. Research suggests that this may reduce the risk of the baby developing allergies.
- Guidelines with ages can only ever be approximate because babies develop at different rates. Start solids based on what your baby can do and not on how old they are. When your baby is ready for solids, they will show signs of readiness, which is a better guide for an individual baby. For example, the baby can sit upright, sees food coming and opens their mouth for food or grabs food from your plate. That is around six months for most babies. They will have lost the tongue-thrust reflex that pushes food back out of the mouth. Some babies may show signs a little earlier and others a little later.
The good news is babies follow key developmental milestones with some predictability. Your baby can start eating solid foods earlier when
- They are at least four months old. Don’t add any solids before four months. Studies have shown starting too early can lead to obesity and other health problems later in life.
- They have good neck control and can hold their head steady when sitting.
- They can sit up with assistance.
- Showing interest in other people’s food. This could be leaning in to try to get food from others or grabbing food on the table.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) currently recommend six months of exclusive breastfeeding and then the introduction of solids while breastfeeding continues. Exclusive breastfeeding means no other food or drink.
Which foods should I avoid for a 4-month-old baby?
Babies are at higher risk of developing food allergies if any close family members have allergies, food allergies or allergy-related conditions, such as eczema or asthma. Talk to your doctor about a family history of food allergies. In some kids, the risk of peanut allergy may be related to when they start eating peanut products. Talk to your doctor about how and when to introduce these foods to your child. Possible signs of food allergy or allergic reactions include
For more severe allergic reactions, such as hives or breathing difficulty, get medical attention right away. If your child has any type of reaction to a food, don't offer that food again until you talk with your doctor.
- Do not give honey until after a baby's first birthday. It may contain spores that are harmless to adults, but can cause botulism in babies.
- Do not give regular cow's milk until your baby is 12 months of age or older. It does not have the nutrition that infants need.
- Do not give junk food, sweets or foods with added sugar ever. Sugar creates picky eaters and is extremely harmful to healthy gut bacteria.
- Do not give tough foods or hard foods. Babies can choke on surprisingly small things. No whole nuts, hard carrots or pieces of cereal unless they are softened, pureed or finely ground.
If food is prepared safely according to the baby’s developmental stage, any food is fair game. Fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins (tofu, beans, meat or fish) can be fed to even the youngest baby if they are cooked thoroughly and mashed, ground or pureed to the right texture. Focus on healthy foods with no sugar. Try to get in as many varieties of fruits, vegetables, high-fiber grains, meats and dairy as possible. Babies need to be fed all foods multiple times before they get used to flavors and textures. The key is to give your baby variety.
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Pediatric Partners: "Feeding Your 4 Month Old." https://pediatricpartnerskc.com/Education/Feeding/FEEDING-YOUR-4-MONTH-OLD
WebMD: "Starting Solid Foods." https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/starting-solid-food