The two largest health organizations that health care providers reference for recommendations related to the care of children are the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Below are their recommendations related to starting solids.
American Academy of Pediatrics
- Solids should not be introduced before 4 months of age.
- Breastfeeding and/or formula are recommended as the sole source of nutrition for the first 6 months.
- Signs baby is ready for solid foods: Baby has good head control. Baby can sit up with minimal support. Baby reaches for your food. Baby can move food from spoon to back of their throat.
- There is no specific food or food group that is recommended as a first food for baby. Meat, vegetables, fruits, and cereals are all appropriate first foods.
- Allergenic foods: Research shows there is no benefit to wait to introduce allergenic foods.
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (2016) baby led weaning does not increase a child’s risk for choking. More information can be found here.
- Reference and more information from the AAP.
World Health Organization
- WHO recommends the introduction of solid foods at 6 months of age.
- Gradually increase the amount and variety of foods.
- Reference and more information from WHO.
Should I introduce solids early to prevent food allergies? For most babies, the answer is no. You may see or hear information regarding the early introduction of solids and allergenic foods to prevent food allergies. This recommendation is based on the study Introduction of Complementary Foods to Infants (West, 2017). The study concluded that early introduction of peanuts is recommended for high risk infants. This recommendation is only for infants that are considered high risk for allergies. If your baby is high risk, speak to your pediatrician about steps for introducing solids and the latest research. Infants not considered high risk should follow the recommendations of the AAP and WHO.
Milk before solids. Breastmilk is your baby’s main staple and is complete nutrition. Solids act nutritionally as a supplemental source of iron, but are otherwise inconsistent and variable in nutritional importance.