10 Signs The Baby Is Ready For Solid Foods And 5 Signs They Need More Time

Maybe it’s because mom is tired of popping open jars of pureed peas, bright orange carrots that are a mushy blur, or baby has too much fun artfully throwing around their food everywhere. At some point, mom might be ready to get the baby eating solid foods.

After all, who doesn’t need more time to get a couple more things done, while the baby gets accustomed to feeding themselves with fun little finger foods, or even learning to wield a spoon with that pincer grasp? Right?

Of course, if the baby is beginning to use a spoon it may also risk being used as a catapult, much to the delight of a little one, and another reason after meal cleanup is going to take that much longer. But it is worth it.

Some babies might not have even a full row of teeth yet in, before their hungry little eyes and tiny hands are going for the food on mom’s plate.

And for mothers who look forward to continuing to raise their child to have a wide-ranging and colorful palate that enjoys unique foods, getting baby into solid foods can be an Epicurious adventure for both mom and baby both.

Luckily, the baby does exhibit some signs that they are ready for solid foods. And mothers who are a bit pushy with their tots should realize, some babies will need more time to adjust.

15 Baby Keeps Eyeballing Mom’s Plate

One sign that baby might be ready to start eating solid foods, is when mom catches the baby staring longingly at their plate of food. It is important that a baby shows some genuine interest in what’s going on around mealtime because it helps make introducing baby to solid food a bit easier.

Of course, babies learn a lot by observation and mimicking their mom and dad. Some babies might be simply fascinated watching mom use a fork or spoon to eat their food, and the whole process of chewing and swallowing.

A baby getting caught staring at mom’s plate is not a sure sign that a baby is interested in eating solid foods, but it is a good indication that the baby is paying attention.

According to Science of Mom, a baby’s readiness to eat solids depends on how much pressure is placed on a baby, in relation to responsive feeding, and mom’s awareness of baby’s hunger cues. Babies should definitely not be pressured into eating solids.

Depending on a baby’s age, mom might be interested in offering a small bite of food to her 4 to 6-month old, to see how the baby reacts. If the baby rejects the offer, begins to cry, or turns their head away with a closed mouth, it might be too early to more seriously try offering solid foods to the baby.

14 Baby’s Teeth Have Started To Come In

baby teeth

Mom knows that it won’t be long before the tooth fairy will have to make her rounds, once a baby’s teeth have finally come in. And with the appearance of a tots first set of teeth, mom may be eager to get baby to start trying out solid foods. However, mom should not be so quick to rush her little one to stop drinking the baby bottle, or nursing from the girls. Some babies are actually born with a tooth or two at birth, but that doesn’t mean that their tummies and digestive system are capable of handling breaking down solid foods.

When introducing baby to solids, mom should observe her child’s actions when around foods. If the baby is showing a clear interest in foods, reaching to grab food off of a mom’s plate, staring at food, and opening the mouth when a spoon of food comes near, those are more positive signs that a baby might be ready for solid foods.

Although a baby has teeth coming in and may be ready to eat solid foods, happily accepting pureed carrots, peas, or little bits of turkey, the baby should be slowly weaned off of milk or formula.

It is good practice to not immediately stop feeding baby breastmilk or formula when giving them solid foods, just to make sure baby gets their nutritional requirements as needed.

13 Baby Seems Disinterested In Mushy Creamed Food From The Jar

baby uninterested

If baby seems pretty blasé and disinterested in the baby food coming from out of a pre-packed jar of food, it might be time for mom to try giving the baby some food off of her dinner plate.

According to Todays Parent, mom should stick to pureed or mashed foods on a spoon but should avoid grapes or hot dogs because they present a potential choking hazard. Most vegetables and fruits are great starter foods for little ones, in addition to still giving the baby breastmilk or formula as desired.

It takes time to get baby more accustomed to getting their nutrition from solid foods. And sometimes a baby snubbing the food in the baby jar is more than just an issue of developing taste buds and sensitivities to texture.

Disinterest in baby food could also be because of a food allergy that causes gas, or increasing interest in eating ‘big people’ food like mom and dad.

According to Very Well Family, mom can try their hand at making food for baby without relying on prepackaged commercial foods. This way, mom can make sure to give their baby a consistency of food that they will be happy eating, and they can eat foods without preservatives and unwanted additives.

12 Baby Is Grabbing Food Off Of Mom’s Plate

baby reaching for bowl of soup

Many medical professionals agree that it is best to breastfeed up until 6 months to a year, but when the baby begins to try to grab food off of mom’s plate, it might be a sign they want to eat solid foods.

Until the baby reaches the age of 4 to 6 months, babies have a tongue-thrust reflex to help them suck on a bottle or nip for feeding. However, this reflex which helps prevent a little baby from choking makes it nearly impossible to eat anything solid.

Mom should be careful about how ready a baby is physically to handle solid foods, in relation to their age. Once the baby is around the 6-month mark, they should stop using the tongue-thrust reflex, and begin to push food toward the back of their mouth and swallow.

If the baby has begun displaying the pincer grasp and seems interested, mom can try offering their child chunkier pieces of fruits and vegetables to try. Some cereals that are made to melt on contact with the mouth and tongue may be better choices, than cereals that would otherwise potentially be a choking hazard. Babies love to imitate what they see, so if they see mom picking up food and putting it in their mouth than the baby will want to do the same. Monkey see monkey do.

11 The Baby Has Reached The Age 4-6 Months

baby with food on face and bib

Usually by the time the baby has reached the age of 4 or 6 months, they should be experts at holding up their heads without assistance, and can sit up pretty well too.

The age period of 4 to 6 months is a huge milestone for babies, because they have been spending enough time spent getting the hang of using their neck muscles, head, and developing motor-coordination to potentially handle eating solid foods.

Even if a baby is getting a little help from mom, the baby has to have the physical mobility to keep their head up, open their mouth to accept a spoonful of food and be able to swallow without dropping their head down.

If mom makes sure to allow their little one ample time to spend on their tummy, scooting, reaching, and pushing and pulling to get strong, chances are baby will be ready to sit up in a high chair to try out some solid food.

If a baby is 4 to 6 months of age, and really stuck on being breastfed or bottle-fed, the baby might not be interested in solid foods. However, mom should be willing to test out how interested the baby is in eating foods without putting on a lot of pressure.

10 Baby Has Stopped Sticking Out Their Tongue And Swallows

baby sticks out tongue

According to Web MD, babies lose their extrusion reflex. When a baby is very young, they rely on the extrusion reflex to help them nurse efficiently, and to be able to latch on to a bottle or the girls.

Eventually, this reflex begins to go away, and babies begin to use their tongue to push things to the back of their mouth and get better at swallowing without sputtering or choking.

Many moms may look forward to introducing baby to solid foods once they become 4 or 6 months, but just because the baby gets a month older, doesn’t mean they are emotionally interested in moving on from bottle feeding or breastfeeding.

The human digestive system is very much a work in progress for babies, gradually developing the capability to handle digesting and absorbing specific nutrients in foods as babies age.

Even at 6 months, a baby’s gut still might not fully get as much out of any solid foods offered, until the baby is closer to 9 to 12 months old. And moms should not ignore how interested or disinterested the baby is in food with more texture, or food with more recognizable features than pureed baby food, or a bottle of milk or formula. The most important thing is to try and see if the baby is interested in solids if they stop the tongue thrust, and advance with feedings.

9 Baby Can Finally Sit Up And Hold Up Head On Their Own

sitting up

Usually, moms get comfortable holding their baby in a cradled position, leaning them back a bit as they latch on for a feeding session, or suckle away contentedly on their baby bottle. No matter how a mom chooses to feed their baby, babies will need to be supported fully at the head, neck, and body while they nurse.

Until a baby can finally sit up without relying on mom holding them up, and they can sit upright without their head drooping to the side, or easily teetering over, they are not ready for solid foods.

Moms will have to be patient with their little one because having to support your own head is a really big deal. The muscles in a baby’s neck, their bones, and developing overall muscle strength take time to build and get into a coordinated motion.

Moms who look forward to moving their baby from bottles or nursing, and want to introduce solid foods sooner should consider encouraging their child to be physically active. Babies need lots of tummy time, obstacles to scoot around and explore, and make repeated attempts to balance themselves upright in a seated position.

Once the baby manages to consistently keep themselves upright without falling, and can readily and easily hold up their head, turn their head from side to side, and swallow without problems, it might be time to try solids.

8 The Baby Loves To Open Mouth For The “Airplane” Spoon

baby eating with spoon

Tools are an amazing thing, and since humans have been employing the use of cutlery to help eat their food, it’s no wonder that babies eventually develop the pincer grasp.

In addition to getting the hang of learning how to hold onto a spoon or fork to access their food, babies who are interested in solids will happily open their mouth to receive a heaping spoonful of fruits, vegetables, grains, or protein sent their way.

There is something pretty fun about feeding a little one with a spoon, plenty of opportunities to make silly noises, make a game out of feeding time, and getting babies excited about growing up. And it doesn’t hurt to play “airplane” with a spoon of food, to make eating the foods that are healthy, but not necessarily the tastiest palatable.

Sometimes even little ones could use some imaginative motivation to get comfortable using their mouths to open, chew, and swallow their food.

And since babies' palates are sensitive, it is important that mom continue to make healthy food choices for their children, to combat tooth decay and obesity from sugar-laden diets. If a baby is old enough to try out solid foods, but continually turns their head away, keeps their mouth closed, or flatly refuses a spoon of food, they just might not be emotionally ready to walk away from nursing or bottle feeding yet.

7 Baby Has The Pincer Grab Down

baby holding spoon

If a baby wants to have an easier time eating solid foods, they are going to have the ability to use the pincer grasp. The ability to grasp onto objects is something that babies are born with, but it takes time to get really good using this skill to handle holding spoons, picking up small pieces of cereal, and placing food into one’s mouth.

Most babies will get their first tooth between the ages of 4 and 7 months according to Baby Center, and around this time, babies who are developing their pincer grasp will want to try holding a spoon of food on their own.

By the time a little one reaches 9 to 12 months, babies will not only be able to handle holding a spoon better, but they might even show what hand they prefer using.

Until a little one can display the pincer grasp, trying to eat solids is going to be a very challenging feat. Mom or dad can help baby try to eat food off of a spoon, but it can add to a little one’s frustration if they are unable to independently make an attempt for themselves with food. And mom should keep in mind, that although some babies display the pincer grasp, they still might want to grasp onto a bottle of formula or milk, rather than put some solid food in their mouth for a while.

6 Baby’s Growth Demands More Than Baby Food

10 month old baby holding onto couch

If a baby is still fussy or crying out after downing a bottle of formula or milk, and they are at least 4 to 6 months of age, they might be more interested in eating something other than baby food.

As a baby continues to get bigger, develops their motor coordination skills, and needs more energy to fuel their body, they will want to eat more. Moms who want their little ones to give solid foods a try may be thrilled to see an increased interest in their baby, especially if it satisfies their hunger.

According to Mayo Clinic, babies need nutrients like iron and zinc in the first 6 months of their life.

Foods like fortified cereal, beans, and other simple-to-eat foods are good sources for little ones. And moms should not forget to give their little one chopped up vegetables, baby crackers, fruits, and even pieces of animal proteins to feed their growing bodies.

Once a baby reaches a certain point with their weight gain and energy needs, subsisting on only small jars of baby food and a bottle of formula or milk is not going to be enough. A mom won’t have to try to hype up the experience of eating solid foods, once the baby is hungry enough to give things a welcome try.

5 Wait: Baby Not Quite 6 Months Yet (Risk Of Allergies)

funny expression on baby's face

One reason it is helpful to introduce solid foods to little one once they are old enough is so that parents can see if their child has any potential allergies. There has been some controversy about what foods to feed or not feed babies, especially when it comes to peanuts, eggs, and fish.

However, if a baby is at least 6 months of age, parents should be willing to give things a try. According to Mayo Clinic, mom can always keep an antihistamine nearby just in case of emergency and should keep portions of trial foods small, so as to not overexpose a child to a potentially severe allergic reaction.

Although it has been recommended that a baby can be as young as 4 months old to give solids a try, it is much better for mom to wait until they are 6 months or slightly older.

Of course, how interested a baby is in solid foods, opening their mouth, staring at food while reaching out, and being able to sit up and swallow matter. However, it is important to consider that a child’s digestive system is better equipped to handle digesting solid foods between the ages of 6 months and 9 months, rather than a very tender 4 months.

4 Wait: Baby Prefers To Breastfeed/Nurse Over Eating Food (Disinterested)

Some babies just know what the good stuff is when it comes to getting the nourishment they need to thrive. And when it comes to breastfeeding, moms might be relieved or stressed that their little one is nearly completely disinterested at trying solid foods, even when they reach the milestone age of 6 months.

Babies who breastfeed are typically slower to make a switch over to solid foods, and may actually benefit from not rushing to get off of mom’s girls or the bottle.

Breastfeeding offers a host of health benefits, from increasing feel-good hormones in both mom and baby, and can reduce the incidences of a baby coming down with a cold or virus, according to Fit Pregnancy. Little ones who eschew eating grain-based baby foods at a younger age, and instead cleave to breastfeeding over certain solid foods for babies may have better weight management.

If mom is looking forward to their breastfed baby to wean themselves and move on to solid foods, patience is definitely a virtue. A baby who is content with nursing, may not be happy if mom is too quick to pressure their little one to subsist on solid foods without milk. And for some moms, there is a sense of loss when baby moves on from nursing too.

3 Wait: Baby’s Gut Enzymes Take Longer Than 6 Months To Help With Digestion

upset baby

Concerns over starch, gluten-allergies, and the ability for a baby to confidently digest their solid foods sufficiently may have a new mom a bit worried.

After all, the one reason a mom looks forward to feeding their little one solids is when they have reached a milestone age, seems interested in foods beyond the bottle, and mom wants to make sure the baby is getting enough proper nutrition.

Although a baby can digest starchy foods and other complex solids by the age of 6 months, they still have a lower level of pancreatic amylase activity than older kids and adults, according to The Science of Mom.

When it comes to feeding babies starch, some moms worry about absorption problems, obesity, or a lack of adequate nutrition. However, moms should also look out for digestive issues with any solid food that can lead to cramping, painful gas, or diarrhea.

The good news is this, even though a baby’s gut enzymes continue to develop between 6 months and 1-year of age, breast milk helps break down foods, and saliva helps with digestion as well. So little ones should still enjoy a bottle or sippy cup of breastmilk at 6 months and older, while they get accustomed to digesting solid foods, starches or not.

2 Wait: Baby Can’t Pick Up Foods And Spoons Yet

baby grasp

According to First Cry Parenting, between the ages of 0 months to 4 months of age, a baby will attempt to hold onto things using their palm, or wrap their fingers around a finger or small object.

By the time a child is around 6 months of age, they should be better at developing the pincer grasp, using their fingers to cleverly pick up small objects.

However, some babies do not develop the pincer grasp, even when at the age of 12 months. If this is the case for a little one, it is best that they are checked out by their pediatrician to rule out cerebral palsy, autism, or another disorder that is contributing to a delay.

However, if a baby doesn’t exhibit the pincer grasp, that doesn’t mean they can’t handle solid foods. But, a mom may want to give their little on a bit more time to use a spoon to attempt to feed themselves.

If a baby is interested enough, opens their mouth when a spoonful of food comes their way, or makes an attempt to grasp at food, mom might just have to be of more assistance to their little one. The pincer grasp can be used as a marker for solid food readiness, but it is up to mom’s discretion, and if the baby is getting enough nutrition with their current diet.

1 Wait: Baby Develops Serious Tummy Trouble If Started Too Early

upset tummy

Babies are not equipped to handle all solid foods that they encounter once they reach 4 to 6 months. Some foods may cause an allergic reaction, or their digestive system may exhibit an adverse reaction.

Commonly, moms should be aware of the risk that a baby may experience painful cramps, bloating, gas, diarrhea, or even may develop a rash in reaction to certain solid foods.

When introducing a baby to solid foods, going slowly, and using small portion sizes is helpful to a baby’s acclimation to digesting materials other than breastmilk, formula, or baby food from a jar. Getting used to chowing down on finger foods, fruits, veggies, cut up deli meats, and even crackers take practice.

If mom puts too much pressure on a little one to consume only solid foods or doesn’t pay attention to how a baby’s body responses to their new diet, problems can arise.

Tummy troubles can be the result of a developing digestive system, and before the age of 6 months, the lining of the gut may still be open, contributing to digestive problems.

When in doubt, it is helpful for mom to consult the baby’s pediatrician, and even check in with a nutritionist to ensure that baby gets enough proper nutrition, and doesn’t suffer significant weight loss and deficiencies.

Sources: What to Expect, Child Development Institute, The Stir Cafe Mom, Today's Parent, Science of Mom, VeryWell Family, Web MD, Parents, Mayo Clinic, Baby Center, Fit Pregnancy, The Science of Mom

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