There is no set age when a baby needs to start having solid foods. The usual recommendation is 4-6 months. Most of all, it depends on when the baby is ready. According to The American Dietetics Association, your baby may be ready to begin solid
food if he does all of the following:
- Sits with help or support
- Doubled birth weight and weighs 13+ lbs.
- Is hungry after 8-10 breastfeedings, or 32 oz. of formula, in a day
There is no need to push this with your child. Early introduction of solids can actually increase a babies risk of allergies or malnutrition. There is also a concern that breastfed babies need more iron intake after 6 months of age, but this is not always the case. I still need to review studies related to this, so I am not stating a position about this at this time. I hope to post about this down the road if I have the time to really think about it.
Personally, my goal is to wait until the baby is 6 months old before I introduce any other foods. With my first son I started at 7 months. This was primarily because breastfeeding (a.k.a. nature’s fast food for babies) was so convenient that actually having to prepare something for him required a shift in operation. He appeared to be ready beforehand, but I wasn’t and that was okay. My second child had his first spoon of cereal at exactly 6 months. He had already been watching us at the table and was quite interested in what we had to offer. We couldn’t feed him fast enough! My third is almost 7 months now. She started showing signs of readiness much earlier. I was reluctant to introduce solids earlier to her because I was more concerned about allergies and intolerances with her (topic for another post). Then when she watched us like a vulture during a meal, I figured I’d give it a try. So she got an earlier start at 5 ½ months. Still, I’ve started slow, and really haven’t introduced much over 4 weeks.
There are several precautions needed to take when you introduce foods to your baby, such as having a waiting period for introducing new foods. Some foods should be off limits until after their first birthday. I simply can’t reproduce all that information. Besides, there are other places you can find it. A good resource for infancy and beyond is Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron (check out their sample chapters online). The American Dietetic Association also has a pdf file available online at: http://www.eatright.org/ada/files/infant_book.pdf.