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Infant feeding: When is your baby ready for solid food

The question:
My baby is six months old and doesn’t want anything to do with solids. Will her health be affected if she doesn’t start eating them soon? What are the best foods to start with for a picky eater? – Morgan, Colorado

The Pediatrician Answers:
Some babies are not ready for solids at six months of age. If she is growing well and developing normally, just let her be until she begins to show signs of readiness. Babies who are ready for solids have good head and trunk control, can sit with minimal support, and can grab objects and bring them to their mouths. If she isn’t doing these things, she’s not ready for solids. If she is, try having her practice with a baby teething biscuit at first. Then progress to pureed food on a spoon.

Her nutrition won’t suffer if she remains solely on breastmilk for the time being. Sometimes, a child seems to “know” they are allergic to certain foods and will refuse to eat them until they can be tolerated. Some children are extremely sensitive to changes in textures or tastes; these babies need a slow and gentle introduction to foods. Independent-minded babies may refuse to be spoon-fed, but will gladly scoop up foods and feed themselves.

A child with a swallowing difficulty or developmental problem will not be ready for solids at six months; solids are introduced to these children when they are ready for them. Virtually all babies who can physically take solids will eventually eat them, but some take longer than others.

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