There are a lot of opinions out there about when to start solids and what foods to start with when you introduce solids. There is also a lot of new research that can add to the confusion for a parent. So what does the current research say?
Recommendations from Health Organizations
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
Important points to note:
- 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 his or her 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
Important points to note:
- 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.
Recommendations and Information from Balanced Breastfeeding
Balanced Breastfeeding offers a guide to help you integrate solid foods into your breastfeeding relationship in the Marathon Mamas course. We recommend this portion of the course to be completed around 4 to 5 months to be prepared to introduce solids around 6 months of age. The following is included in the course:
Starting & Incorporating Solids…continue to breastfeed.
- Preparing to start solids at 4-5 months (to begin around 6 months)
- Complementing, no replacing breastmilk or formula with solids
- Allergies & Dental Health
- Updated peanut information
- Create dinner traditions