Is my baby ready to start solids?

After four to six months of exclusively feeding your baby breastmilk or formula, they’ll start to show signs that they’re ready for the next step – solids! But when exactly is your baby ready? Let’s look at all the signs that it’s time to introduce solids.

Is my baby ready to start solids?

Solids readiness depends on the maturity of your baby’s digestive tract and their developmental readiness for solids. The maturity of your baby’s digestive tract is not something you can observe, but research indicates that around 6 months is the ideal time.

Your baby’s unique development and behaviour will guide you, but here is what you need to look out for in terms of developmental readiness. Your baby:

  • has good head and neck control, and can sit up without support
  • shows an interest in food eg. by looking at what’s on your plate
  • reaches out for your food
  • opens their mouth when you offer them food on a spoon
  • has lost their tongue-thrust reflex, and does not automatically push solids out of his mouth with his tongue
  • ready and willing to chew
  • is developing a ‘pincer grasp’ (they’re starting to pick up food between their thumb and forefinger)

What age will my baby show these signs?

Most babies start to show these signs by around six months, but it can happen at different times for different babies. Ensure that you look at all the signs of readiness as a whole.

It is not recommended to offer your baby solids of any sort before 4 months.

If you want to offer your baby food before six months, it’s best to chat to your maternal and child health nurse or paediatrician first. Just because your baby is eager to join in with family mealtimes doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re ready to eat solids. It could just be that your baby has the normal developmental urge to do what everyone else is doing.

If your baby is nearing seven months and hasn’t started solids, you may also need to talk to your health professional. This is because from about six months, your baby will begin to need more iron (read more on this here) and zinc than what breastmilk or formula can provide.

Myths about solid readiness

  • Your baby’s weight has reached a ‘magic’ number eg. they’ve doubled their birth weight
  • Your breastfed baby is big so you need to start solids because you won’t make enough milk
  • Your baby is small so you need to start solids
  • Babies before 6 months need to start solids because there is not enough iron in breastmilk
  • Your baby needs to start solids so that they sleep longer at night

What solids should I be introducing first?

When your baby is ready for solids, first foods can be smooth, mashed, or in soft pieces (see baby-led weaning), depending on what works best for you and your baby.

Your baby needs a variety of textures and tastes. This helps them to learn to chew, which is linked with speech development. It also encourages independent feeding, and reduces fussy eating challenges as your baby develops.

There’s no need to cook special foods for your baby unless you’d like to. You can introduce solids in any order over 6 months, as long as you include iron-rich foods. To these iron-rich foods, you can add vegetables, fruits, grains, and dairy foods (unless allergies or intolerances are present).

If you’re going to buy commercial baby food for those times when you need a quick, convenient option, look for the following:

  • A variety in texture
  • Natural ingredients
  • No added sugar or salt
  • True savoury options (not sweetened with fruit)

Tip: Feeding experts, speech pathologists, and dietitians recommend that all foods are offered via a spoon or as finger foods, and not sucked from a pouch. Your baby should be able to see, smell, touch, and chew their food. Have fun with it, and offer a rainbow of fresh food and all the flavours of the world.

Head to our Starting Baby Food section to recipes and tips to get started on your little one’s food journey., Is Baby Ready For Solids?, Introducing Solids: Why, When, What, and How.