Readiness Signs for Starting Solids

Guest post by Kayla Richardson
Speech and Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist, M.S., CCC-SLP, CLC

 

 

How do you know when your baby is ready to start solids foods? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing solid foods around 6 months of age. In my professional opinion, it is more important to look at skills of the baby, rather than their age. I strongly promote a baby lead feeding approach to introducing solid foods in my practice. This means I want the baby to start being an active participant in self feeding right from the start, and I want to offer a variety of safe textures and flavors rather than only purees. In order to do this, a baby needs specific gross motor, fine motor, and oral motor skills. Here’s what I’m looking for:

Gross Motor

  • Your baby should have good head control
  • Your baby should be sitting unassisted or with minimal support

Fine Motor

  • Your baby should reach to pick up objects, toys, utensils, and food and bring them to their own mouth while in a seated position

Oral Motor

  • When offered food from a caregiver, your baby should open their mouth and lean slightly forward to accept the offered bite.
  • At first, your baby might push foods out of the front of their mouth due to the tongue excursion reflex, but this reflex should begin to integrate around this time.

Remember, all babies develop these skills at their own pace! This is why I shy away form using a specific age recommendation for starting solids. Some babies might be ready earlier than 6 months, and some might need a little extra time. Introducing solids should be FUN, so if it begins to feel stressful it is ok to take a break and try again in a few days or weeks.

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