• Infant boy in high chair wearing a bib and eating solid foods.

As a parent of a new baby, knowing when the right time to transition from one stage of feeding to the next can feel scary. Many resources out there have opinions on how to introduce solid foods, and friends and family may be overwhelming you with what worked or didn’t work for them. It is important to keep in mind that not all babies grow at the same rate and there is not one set deadline for your little one to start changing their eating habits. Your baby will let you know when they are ready to make the jump.

So, you might be wondering, “How will I know when it is time to start letting my child try solid foods?” Here are some signs that may tell you your baby is ready to be introduced to solid foods!

  1. They can keep their head up and sit upright without help (controlling head and neck)
  2. They open their mouth when food is being given to them
  3. They can swallow the food, rather than push it out and down their chin
  4. They can bring items to their mouth or using their hands to try and grab certain objects
  5. They can move food from the front of their mouth to the back to swallow it2

Most babies will be ready to move from breastfeeding or formula to eating solid foods at around six months old2. It is best to try and avoid giving your baby solid foods before they are four months of age. Studies have found that babies who are breastfed for at least six months are less likely to be overweight later in life3. Breastfeeding for the first year, if possible, is key in making sure your baby is getting adequate nutrients needed to grow and develop4. After six months, solid foods will supply more nutrients and energy than milk alone will provide4. Waiting too long to give your baby solid foods can also prevent development, so try and aim for the six-month mark if possible5.

Infants learn best by trying new things out for themselves. Allowing them the chance to experiment and play with the food given to them can help them discover how to feed themselves1. Eating as a family can help create healthy relationships for your baby with their food1. It will also have positive effects on the development of your baby as they are trying these new foods1. It is important to expose your baby to different textures and flavors as part of this transition to ensure they are trying all kinds of solid foods. This could help prevent picky eating later on. To start, foods should be mashed, pureed, or very smooth in texture to avoid any choking hazards2. Different foods that are thicker or have lumps and other textures can be given as your baby continues to develop their oral skills2.

How much solid food is enough to start off with?

It is suggested that giving your baby roughly one to two tablespoons of a new food at a time is a good starting point1. These new foods can be introduced a few times throughout the day. Feeding small portions at a time and making sure your baby is eating slowly can prevent choking. This is also a good time to start introducing potential allergen foods. Start with one ingredient (or allergen food) every three to five days, keeping in mind to watch them as they eat it in case there are any food allergies or intolerances1. The nine major allergen foods are fish, shellfish, treenuts, peanuts, milk, wheat, eggs, soy, and sesame6. As your infant develops oral and motor skills, more foods can be given to them at a time (like two or three foods in a day). Be mindful that this process is exposing your baby to new foods and textures, so if they are not eating all that they are given, that is acceptable. Breastmilk or formula will continue to provide enough nutrition to your baby as they transition to solid food3.

If you are wondering how to determine if your baby is handling the transition well, you can watch for loose or watery stools. This would be a sign that the food is not being tolerated, and you should cut the amount and how often you are feeding solid foods1.

What solid foods should I be giving my baby? What foods should I avoid?

Foods from all food groups, like vegetables, fruits, infant cereals, yogurt or cheese, grains, and proteins, can be offered to babies2. Infant cereals given to infants should be fortified – meaning that certain nutrients are added into the cereal – with things such as whole grains, oats, barley, or nutrients like zinc and iron, instead of just giving your baby rice cereals that could potentially be harmful2. Some examples of foods that are good to start with are soft fruits like bananas or avocado, scrambled eggs, peas, soft potatoes cut up (or mashed), well-cooked pasta, chopped up meats like chicken or turkey, cracker puffs and cut-up pancakes.1.

There are a few different foods that should be avoided because they could lead to choking. Examples include raw vegetables, chunks of fruit, any nuts or seeds, hot dogs, chunky peanut butter, popcorn, and any hard or chewy candies1. These foods all require chewing, and they are harder for an infant to swallow properly at this point. Juice is also something that babies don’t necessarily need, but if you’re going to give it to your baby, make sure it is 100% fruit juice to avoid tooth decay, or consider adding water to the juice to limit the amount of juice you are giving your baby1. Only offer it in a cup, and don’t give them more than four ounces of it a day1. Lastly, foods that are high in bacteria (like honey and unpasteurized milk products) should not be given to babies. These foods contain harmful bacteria and could lead to food poisoning, as the microbiome in young children has not yet developed2.

The most important thing to remember during this process is to listen and watch for your baby to show you what is working and what might not be. If you ever have questions or concerns about the nutrition of your baby, talk with a doctor or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to help guide you.


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2022, August 12). Starting solid foods. HealthyChildren.org. Retrieved March 4, 2023, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Starting-Solid-Foods.aspx
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, August 24). When, what, and how to introduce Solid Foods. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved March 4, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/when-to-introduce-solid-foods.html#:~:text=The%20Dietary%20Guidelines%20for%20Americans,months%20old%20is%20not%20recommended
  3. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2021, June 7). Infant Food and Feeding. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved March 4, 2023, from https://www.aap.org/en/patient-care/healthy-active-living-for-families/infant-food-and-feeding/
  4. Feeding your baby: When to start with Solid Foods. UNICEF Parenting. (n.d.). Retrieved March 4, 2023, from https://www.unicef.org/parenting/food-nutrition/feeding-your-baby-when-to-start-solid-foods
  5. World Health Organization. (2021, June 9). Infant and young child feeding. World Health Organization. Retrieved March 4, 2023, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/infant-and-young-child-feeding
  6. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2023, January 10). Food allergies. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved March 5, 2023, from https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/food-allergies

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