A lot of questions surround starting solids with your baby, but the major worry among most parents is whether or not they're starting solids earlier than they should. Lots of kids aren't psyched about food at first; does that mean they're not ready or just that they need practice? It's so hard to tell. Luckily, there are signs you're giving your baby on solids too soon that you can watch for. If your child exhibits any of them, you can simply hold off a little longer.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies who are fed too early have a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, allergies, and eczema. And also according to the AAP, studies indicate that around 40 percent of moms are feeding their children too soon. Why? A lot of parents who are feeding their babies before they're ready have been advised by friends and family that solids help make a baby less fussy. But knowing when your baby is actually ready mostly involves watching for the right signs, both developmentally and physically.
As you're considering solids, it's a good idea to just observe your little one. If they're able to do things like reaching for your food while you eat, prop themselves up on their elbows, support their own head and weight, and even show interest in eating, there's a good chance they're ready to start solids, according to Nurture Life. If you're still not sure, however, or feel some pushback while introducing food, check out some of the signs below to see if you may be starting solids too soon.
1. Your Baby Isn’t 6 Months Old
According to The New York Times, doctors recommend waiting until a baby is at least 6 months old to start solids. In 2012, the previously mentioned AAP article shared that growing evidence caused them to raise the age to introduce solids from 4 to 6 months, and that babies should not be fed anything except breast milk or formula until then.
2. They’re Not Exhibiting Physical Symptoms Of Readiness
Pediatrician T J Gold, M.D. told The New York Times that your baby will show physical symptoms when he’s ready to start solids by putting his hands in his mouth and making chewing motions. If you haven’t experienced those signs, it may mean you need to wait a little longer.
3. Your Baby Can’t Hold Up Their Head Or Sit On Their Own
According to Kelly Mom, it’s important your baby is able to sit up and hold their own head without support. Otherwise, it’s a sign that, developmentally, your child may not be ready for solids.
4. Their Tongue Keeps Pushing Food Out
According to What To Expect, when babies are not ready for solid food, you’ll often notice something called a “tongue-thrust reflex.” It’s a reflex that pushes foreign things out of their mouth with the tongue, and if they continuously exhibit this reflex, consider waiting. A good way to test it is by placing a tiny bit of baby food with breast milk or formula in your baby's mouth. If the food is continuously pushed back out with their tongue, the reflex is still there, and they’re not ready.
5. Your Baby Isn’t Opening Their Mouth For Food
What To Expect advises that a baby should be ready and willing to open their mouth wide for baby food. Additionally, they should be able to make up-and-down movements with their tongue. If you notice these mouth and tongue skills just aren’t there, wait to start solids.
6. They Can’t Swallow Well
If your baby isn’t readily taking food off the spoon and able to swallow it, it’s a strong sign they’re not ready for solids yet, according to CNN. Instead, your baby should be showing interest in food and easily able to swallow it from the spoon.