When can Babies Eat Solid Foods?

J. Beam

Babies are born with natural reflexes that help them to nurse, and during the first few months of life, breast milk or formula is all that is needed to provide babies with adequate nutrition. Prior to about four to six months of age, babies cannot control their reflexes well enough to eat solid foods. Somewhere between four and six months of age, most babies will be able to control their reflexes enough to eat solids.

Baby eating a banana.
Baby eating a banana.

Solid foods, such as infant cereal and baby food, are the first real foods a baby will eat. Most experts recommend starting such foods when the baby is able to adequately control his or her head movements and tongue reflexes. While this developmental milestone will occur at different times for different babies, it usually occurs between four to six months of age. The first solid foods introduced to babies should be easily digestible, such as rice cereal, and the consistency should be thin enough for baby to swallow easily.

Applesauce is often one of the first foods that a baby eats.
Applesauce is often one of the first foods that a baby eats.

Starting solid foods too soon can result in food allergies, and certain foods should be avoided all together until the baby is older. Nutritional experts and pediatricians generally recommend choosing simple fruits and vegetables as a baby’s first foods. Carrots, peas, pears, applesauce, and bananas are all good choices. Parents should keep in mind that babies naturally have a preference for sweeter foods, and introducing vegetables before fruits will not change this preference. It is more important to provide them with a well-balanced, nutritional diet.

Babies can eat mashed peas after about seven months.
Babies can eat mashed peas after about seven months.

When babies are ready to eat solids, parents should introduce each new food individually and wait at least three days before introducing a new one. This allows time to identify any allergic reaction to a particular food. If the baby’s stool habits change drastically or a rash develops after the introduction of a new food, that food should be eliminated from the diet, and the baby's parents should talk to a pediatrician.

Prepared foods, such as pears, make good first-foods for babies.
Prepared foods, such as pears, make good first-foods for babies.

As time passes, babies begin to develop a taste for new foods and their breast milk or formula intake will gradually decrease. Babies should not be given whole milk until they are a year old, and foods containing nuts, eggs, and honey should be delayed until they are older. Tempting as it may be, parents should avoid giving a baby table foods that are prepared for the entire family unless they are prepared without salt.

Once babies have tolerated a variety of solids, new textures, such as pastas and breads, can be introduced. Before most parents know it, their children will move on to the next milestone: self-feeding.

Pediatricians warn parents not to allow babies to consume honey due to botulism concerns.
Pediatricians warn parents not to allow babies to consume honey due to botulism concerns.

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Discussion Comments


I don't know about the best time to feed solids to a baby is. I'd wait until four months, but my mom who has been a nurse (RN) all her career shocked me the other day when she told me all her babies (four) were all eating at three months. We as adults are all big eaters and not one of us has any allergies.


@John57-- It is very easy to be a bit overwhelmed when you have your first child. It is amazing how much easier and how much more comfortable you feel after the first one. As far as starting a baby on solid foods, I think it depends on the baby.

Some of my kids were ready at 4 months and others weren't interested until they were older. It is something I never pushed, as I knew they would pretty much let me know when they were ready for something other than breast milk.

One thing I have always found interesting is that one of my boys never liked meat as a toddler. He had no problems eating the fruits and vegetables, but always turned his head away at the meat. What I find so interesting about this is that today he is an adult and is a vegetarian.


@olittlewood-- I make a lot of my own baby food and find this not only saves me a lot of money, but the food is also much fresher and better for them. It really only takes a few minutes to make this as long as you have it on hand. I like knowing exactly what I am feeding my baby and only use organic fruits and vegetables.


When I had my first child I was a stickler about doing everything exactly as my pediatrician told me. There have been different opinions through the years about when to feed solid baby food.

My son was very fussy and rarely slept through the night. My mom kept telling me I should give him a little bit of rice cereal before bedtime to help him sleep a little bit better. I thought he was too young and waited until he was over 6 months old. Looking back now, I wish I would have listened to my mom, as I could have had a baby who was more content and I would not have lost out on so much sleep.


@anon253991-- Every baby is a little bit different, but waiting 3-4 days is a good rule of thumb to see if your baby will tolerate a new food without any problems.

I was fortunate that none of my kids had food allergies and never had any problems when I introduced a new solid baby food to them. I got to the point where I wouldn't wait that long to give them a new food.

This probably isn't recommended for most babies, but it seemed to work OK for my kids. They were all good eaters and would eat just about anything I gave them. One exception was beets, and I can't say that I blame them because I don't like beets either. I gave them plenty of other vegetables so this wasn't a big deal.


"Starting solid foods too soon can result in food allergies..." -based on what report/ study? What is the process by which a babies receptiveness or rejection of a food would occur?


us as a school would say about 2-3 days until a baby can eat but that is just a school's report.


How soon can babies have blueberries? He seems to like the flavor.


some experts recommend waiting up to a week between introducing new foods. i typically wait from 4-6 days, and so far that has worked. i'd also recommend mixing cereal with breastmilk to make it more palatable to a breastfed baby, as well as to reduce the shock of something new to adjust to.

making baby food is really easy too--just steam and puree, then freeze in ice cube trays. once they're frozen, pop them out and store in the freezer in a ziploc baggie. you'll have baby food there when you need it, and the best thing is that you know what you're putting in your baby's food!

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