When and How: Switching Your Baby to Solid Foods

Easing your baby’s transition from liquids to solids
baby bottles with formula and fruit

You might be tempted (or excited) to start you baby on solids. But here pediatrician Deb Lonzer, MD, explains why parents should wait until their baby is 6 months old before switching to solid foods. Solids aren’t as nutritious as breast milk or formula, they’re harder to swallow and, given too soon, may cause health problems like eczema and allergies.

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Within four to six months, your baby will start to develop coordination to move food from her mouth to her throat. Her head control will improve. She may be interested in what you’re eating and open her mouth if you offer a spoonful.

These are signs she may be getting ready to make the big transition from liquids to solids. And once your baby is ready, how do you begin?

Getting the process started

Remember this is a gradual process. Your baby needs time to learn how to swallow solids. At first your baby will still be getting most of her nutrition from breast milk and formula. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends continuing breastfeeding or formula for at least 12 months.)

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You may want to begin by giving your baby a little breast milk or formula first, switch to very small spoonfuls of food, then finish with a little more breastfeeding or formula.

Healthy eating from day one

I tell parents they can make their own baby food. Go with fruits, vegetables and healthy grains to give your baby a head start on eating right.

Here’s an example of good, nutritious solid food for your baby that you can easily pull together:

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  • Start with brown rice. Make sure your baby can handle the texture, since he or she isn’t used to anything thicker than breast milk. At first your baby may push the food out and dribble it, or not be able to swallow. Try diluting it the first few times, then thicken it gradually.
  • Mix in some pureed bananas, applesauce or pears once you’re sure your baby can handle this new texture.
  • Add in pureed vegetables like squash, peas and carrots.

Good eating habits for a lifetime

When you start the transition with lots of fruits and vegetables, you create healthy habits. Then, you have a child who learns early on to eat the good things.

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