When To Introduce Solid Food To Your Baby

Baby getting spoon-fed

Verywell / Ellen Lindner

Parents frequently have questions regarding what foods they can introduce at what age to their baby. Starting to feed your baby solids is an exciting time but the process can also be confusing. But you don't have to figure out what and when to feed your baby on your own.

There are lots of resources available to you, from your pediatrician to baby food cookbooks to books such as "Your Baby's First Year" from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Learn more about when and what to start feeding your baby solid foods.

Feeding Solids by Age, A Month by Month Guide

Baby getting spoon-fed

Verywell / Ellen Lindner

It's important to follow baby food feeding guidelines. Make sure the sources that you are relying upon are current and up-to-date. Use suggested benchmarks as guidelines, knowing that your baby's development is unique. Always take into consideration your baby's own health history and your family history (such as any known food allergies) when feeding solids.

Starting Baby on Solids

Baby drinking bottle

Verywell / Ellen Lindner

For a healthy baby without digestive or developmental problems, breast milk and/or infant formula is the only recommended source of nutrition until 6 months of age. While the exact time of starting a baby on solids is commonly debated, the AAP recommends starting solid foods around 6 months of age.

Starting solids is a unique developmental milestone, and there really is no magic age that suits all babies, but you should not start solids before 4 months. The AAP notes that delaying solid food intake until after your infant is 4 months of age may reduce their risk of developing atopic dermatitis (eczema).

Is Your Baby Ready For Solids? 

Watch your baby for signs of readiness for solids, and base your decision of when to begin on those observations paired with a conversation with your pediatrician. The AAP recommends watching for the following signs your baby is ready:

  • Can sit up without support
  • Shows interest in food, such as reaching for food, opening ​the mouth, or leaning forward

Change in Timing for Baby Solids

It used to be that medical professionals advocated delaying the start of certain foods for fear of allergic reaction. However, research brought to light that babies can have nearly all the foods that would be typically introduced during the first year as early as 6 months without issue.

Regardless, be sure you know the symptoms of food allergies. A conversation with your doctor should help guide you on what you should do.

All that being said, many parents still prefer to have some guidelines for introducing solid foods. The following information details some suggestions on solid food introduction but take into account the AAP's new policy that opens up some feeding choices to babies as young as 6 months.

Is My Baby Ready For Food?

Baby getting spoon-fed in chair

Verywell / Ellen Lindner

How will you know if your baby is ready for solid food? The AAP recommends looking for the following developmental milestones:

  • Baby can sit up with support
  • Good head control
  • Shows interest in food by leaning forward, opening mouth, and reaching for food

For a 6-month-old (or thereabouts) baby, solids are a new experience. For a vast majority of families in the United States, parents will crack open that box of infant cereal for the milestone. However, though a popular choice, don't think that infant cereal must be your starting point. In addition to (or instead of) infant cereal, you might consider over 20 first baby foods to start out on.

The American Academy of Allergies, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAI) recommends waiting three to four days between offering new foods to check for an allergic reaction. However, some pediatric nutrition experts believe this doesn’t allow enough food variety to be introduced to babies and that it might prevent them from being exposed to more flavors and textures.

More flavor exposure might mean more acceptance of those flavors in the toddler years. Speak with a registered dietitian or your pediatrician about offering more foods, more often, as long as your baby isn’t at high risk for developing a food allergy.

Here's an abbreviated list of first food options that little ones commonly love—but remember that almost any food that your family is eating can be a good first food, as long as it is prepared safely (soft enough, does not contain honey, not a choking hazard, and so on).

  • Apples
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Green beans
  • Meat
  • Pasta (cooked until soft)
  • Pears
  • Peas
  • Squash: acorn, butternut, pumpkin
  • Sweet potato

Baby Nutrition Between 6 to 8 Months Old

Baby holding food

Verywell / Ellen Lindner

As your baby accepts new foods, you'll find that near the 8-month mark they have quite the menu of foods on their list. Nutrition needs are being met by a variety of quality foods while you now find yourself more experienced and well-equipped with tips for starting solids.

In addition to the first foods, additional foods may include (but are certainly not limited to) some of the following. You can continue to feed baby-safe versions of whatever the family is eating, such as:

  • Cereal and grain group: kasha (buckwheat), brown rice, bread
  • Dairy group: whole plain yogurt
  • Fruit and vegetable groups: asparagus, carrots, summer squash, white potatoes
  • Meat group: chicken, turkey (You might consider puréeing your own meats.)

Baby Food Guide at 8 to 10 Months

Baby getting spoon fed in chair

Verywell / Ellen Lindner

By the end of this age range, you might be surprised at all the foods your baby is eating. As previously mentioned, the AAP's baby food guide confirms that they can have the foods listed below as early as six months.

However, if you're looking for ideas for some foods you may not have tried, consider some of the options below. Don't forget finger foods as well. Offer soft, baby bite-sized pieces of soft foods, while being mindful to watch for choking or gagging.

  • Cereal and grain group: oat cereal circles, teething biscuits, pasta
  • Dairy group: Mild cheeses like cheddar, Monterey jack, mozzarella, muenster, Swiss, and cottage cheese
  • Fruit and vegetable groups: beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, citrus fruits (be mindful that acidic fruits can cause diaper rashes), peeled and quartered grapes, kale, kiwi, melons, okra, onion (cooked), pineapple, rhubarb, rutabaga, spinach, turnips
  • Meat group: lamb, lean beef, liver

Feeding Baby Solid Food Between 10 to 12 Months

Baby eating a carrot

Verywell / Ellen Lindner

By age one, many babies have a diverse palate and are able to occasionally feed themselves independently. If you haven't already, you can add light seasonings to your baby's meals, but keep both added salt and sugar to a bare minimum.

If you haven't tried any of these foods yet, perhaps offer them during this time.

  • Cereal and grain group: whole grain pasta, bulgur cereal
  • Fruit and vegetable groups: artichoke (pureed heart), blueberries, cucumber, eggplant
  • Meat group: eggs, fish (white-fleshed), dried peas and beans, lentils, lima beans, pork, soybeans, veal

Foods to Avoid

Here are some foods to avoid during the first year. Be mindful that the following foods shouldn't be given until sometime after the first birthday:

  • Nutrition and digestion concerns: Cow's milk, which does not the right nutritional balance compared to breast milk and formula
  • Foodborne illness/food safety: Undercooked eggs, honey, raw meats
  • Choking hazards: These include whole blueberries/strawberries/grapes, dried fruits/raisins, popcorn, whole nuts, uncut cherry or grape tomatoes, large chunks of cheese (string cheese), and hot dogs

By Jennifer White
Jennifer White has authored parenting books and has worked in childcare and education fields for over 15 years.