Babies often hit one of their growth spurts at six months. Around this time, it may seem that your little one just can't eat enough, and you may be wondering if now is the time to add some solid food. Here are some guidelines for knowing when your baby is ready for solid foods and how to introduce them.

A baby's growth from 5-8 months will allow for many changes in food intake. Breast milk or iron-fortified formula still needs to be the main part of a baby's diet. Solids may be started at this time.

Starting Solids

Not Too Soon...

Solids do not help young infants sleep through the night. Starting solids too soon can:

  • Cause choking
  • Be hard for your baby to digest
  • Cause food allergies
  • Prevent your baby from getting enough breast milk or formula (which will continue to be your child’s most important source of nutrients until they are 12 months)

Just the Right Time

Your baby is ready for solids when she can:

  • Hold her neck steady
  • Sit without support
  • Open her mouth when food is offered
  • Draw in her lower lip when spoon is removed from her mouth
  • Keep food in her mouth and swallow it
  • Show an interest in the food you are eating
  • Reach for food showing she wants some

Tips for Feeding Your Baby Solids

To help your child learn to eat solid foods, remember the following:

  • Choose a time when your baby is rested and happy.
  • Have your baby sit up.
  • Make sure the food is not too hot.
  • Feed all food from a spoon.
  • Add only one new food at a time every 3-5 days.
  • Homemade or purchased baby foods can be used.
  • When opening jar food, listen for the pop. Don't use jars with lids that don't pop.
  • Maintain regular snack and meal times.
  • Use small portions of food (start with 1-2 teaspoons). Throw away leftovers, and do not put food back in the jar. Saliva mixed with food will make it spoil.
  • Your baby does not need salt, grease, fat, sugar, or honey added to foods. Your baby's tastes are not the same as yours. Taste some formula—you'll get the idea!

Other key points:

  • To protect teeth and begin weaning, always offer juice from a cup.
  • To prevent choking, always hold your baby when feeding from a bottle.

Feeding Schedule: 5-8 Months

AgeFood and Daily Amount
5-6 months Breast milk: on demand
OR
Iron-fortified formula: 4-5 feedings of 6-8 ounces each
4-6 months Infant cereal: 4-8 tablespoons, mixed
Six months Fruits/vegetables: 2-4 tablespoons, twice daily
Infant juice: 2-4 ounces (from cup only)
7-8 months Breast milk: 3-5 feedings, or on demand
OR
Iron-fortified formula: 3-5 feedings of 6-8 ounces each

Infant cereal: 4-6 tablespoons
Infant juice: 2-4 ounces (from cup only)
Fruits: 1-2 tablespoons
Vegetables: 5-7 tablespoons
Meats: 1-2 tablespoons
Finger foods: One small serving (toast, crackers, teething biscuits, plain dry cereal). Watch child very carefully for choking. If he is having trouble swallowing these foods, stop and reintroduce after nine months of age. Be extremely careful or avoid foods that can may increase the chances of choking such as hot dogs, hard candy, grapes, seeds, popcorn, and nuts (especially peanuts).

Suggestions When Using Solid Foods

Cereal
  • Start with single-grain cereals: rice first, then oats and barley.
  • Wait until your baby is six months old to try other kinds of cereal.
  • Start by making the cereal thin—mix one teaspoon of dry cereal with 2-3 tablespoons of breast milk or iron-fortified formula.
  • As baby gets older, make it thicker—mix one tablespoon dry cereal with 2-3 tablespoons of breast milk or iron-fortified formula.
Meat
  • Use plain, strained meats when starting. If meat is too thick, thin with breast milk, iron-fortified formula, or meat juices.
  • Avoid meat and vegetable combinations or high-protein meat dinners.
  • You can use cooked egg yolk, but don't give egg white until your baby is one year old.
Fruits and vegetables
  • Start with pureed fruits and vegetables.
  • Start with single, plain choices without tapioca added.
  • Don't serve fruit "desserts."
Juice
  • Offer juice from a cup, not a bottle.
  • Start with infant juice. Mix one ounce of water with one ounce of juice. Gradually cut back the water until giving straight juice.
  • Start with single-flavored juices. Wait until your baby is older to give mixed juices.
  • Use only 100% juice, not flavored fruit drink such as Kool-aid®, punch, or soda (pop).
  • Limit juice to 4-6 ounces per day.

Bottles and Storage

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical found in a many products, including plastic containers or bottles (with recycling number 7), as well as canned goods. While BPA's effects in humans is still being studied, some experts recommend that you limit your baby's exposure to this chemical. To learn more, read the article "BPA Raising Concerns."