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Stepping up to solids

After a few months of breast- or bottle-feeding your baby, you may feel eager to start dabbling in cereals, strained carrots and pureed peaches. Have patience, says the American Academy of Pediatrics, which advises not starting solids until baby is at least 4 to 6 months old or 6 months for breastfed babies and shows these signs:

  • Has outgrown the tongue-thrust reflex. This reflex, which helps prevent babies from choking on objects, will cause them to push food out of their mouths.
  • Supports his or her own head. Your baby doesn’t have to master sitting up solo yet but must be able to hold up his or her head well when propped in an infant seat or high chair.
  • Shows interest in food. Does your baby reach for food from an older sibling?

Remember to check with your baby’s doctor before starting solid foods. He or she may suggest waiting if your family has a history of food allergies. Waiting until baby’s digestive system is more mature may reduce the risk of allergic reactions. Introduce solids gradually, just a few teaspoonfuls at first, and always use a spoon; don’t put food in a bottle or infant feeder with a nipple. Your baby will likely find the new food strange, and most will wind up on his or her face instead of in the mouth. Don’t force the issue if baby cries or turns away. Simply continue nursing or bottle-feeding and try again in another week or two.