When is Baby Ready To Eat? (What To Feed Babies Series)

 Welcome to the first post in my series on What To Feed Babies! We're starting off with a topic of much debate: At what age should babies start eating? On the one hand are doctors who recommend starting rice cereal at four months or earlier, and on the other hand you have people like this mom, who exclusively breastfed her daughter for almost two years, choosing to follow the baby's cues for being ready for solid food.

My Experience With Baby's Readiness

Having two very different children has given me an interesting perspective of a lot of baby-related things, including determining when a baby is ready for solid foods.

As a first time mom, I eagerly awaited the 6 month mark, thinking (even if I tried not to) that somehow my baby would magically be ready to eat foods when he hit that milestone age. Six months came and went, and so did seven, and eight, and nine...and this kid did not want to eat!

He would get angry when I tried to feed him my lovingly made vegetable purees with a spoon. And he would gag if I tried to give him soft, "gummable" chunks of food like banana or avocado to feed himself. I had read all about how egg yolk is a great first food for babies starting as soon as four months, but here was my eight month old refusing to even taste it!

As it turned out, Caedmon did not really start eating any significant quantity of food until past his first birthday. By that point, I was able to just give him table food, and bypass the puree stage completely. (Less work, woohoo!) Of course I worried needlessly over it, as many first time moms do when their child is not doing something by the time the average age rolls around (we're there now with potty training). But now I am quite confident of this: he just wasn't ready. He was a marathon nurser and apparently breast milk was enough to sustain him for that first year.

My daughter, of course, is a different story. We introduced solid foods not long after her six month birthday. Now, at almost nine months, she seems to already need three meals a day! She was not quite sitting unsupported (one of the solids readiness signs) when we started feeding her, but since all the other signs were there, I felt comfortable starting. This girl loves to eat!

So there you have it: two completely different scenarios of two completely different kids.

Solid Food Readiness Signs


If you search the internet you'll find all sorts of lists of "readiness signs" to tell you when babies are ready to start eating solid foods. Here are a few common ones:

  • Loss of the tongue thrust reflex (baby doesn't push food out of his/her mouth automatically)
  • Can sit unsupported
  • Working on the pincer grasp to pick up small objects (thumb and forefinger)
  • Interested in food when others are eating
And I'm adding another: eats food when it's given! If your child meets all the signs but doesn't want to eat, all you can do it wait until they want to. If they are growing and gaining weight and are otherwise healthy, you don't need to worry. The best thing you can do in that case, if you're breastfeeding, is to make sure your diet is as nourishing as possible so you can sustain both yourself and your growing baby.

Here is a great article detailing the readiness signs and myths regarding when to start solid foods, and here is some very well-researched information on why to delay solids until at least 6 months.

When did you start feeding your baby solid foods? Which signs gave you the go-ahead?

This is part of Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday

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  1. I have 5 children all of whom were exclusively nursed for longer than a year (baby still nursing). I tried to put them off eating solids until after 6 months. Most of mine were ready to eat around 5 1/2 months. The signs for readiness for me were that they were noticing that we were eating. At which point I would allow them to have a spoon. Normally they would play with the spoon for another week or two and then they would seem to want more. That is usually when I would introduce food slowly over time in bits.

    1. Sorry when I said exclusively nursed I meant that we did not use formula. They did eat solids when I determined they were ready.

    2. Thanks for sharing your experience Dawn!

  2. Julian started eating table food at 8 months. He was probably ready at 7 months, but he turned 7 months right around the holiday season, so I put it off. I figured it would be easier to say to family members, "Oh, he doesn't eat solid food yet." than having to repeatedly say "No, you ca't give my 7 month old a small taste of chocolate frosting."

  3. I started having many people comment when my oldest was 4 months old that she should be eating solids. I waited for 6 months, tried it and everything was thrust right bsck out please she gave me a look of "why on earth are you putting that in my mouth?". So I waited, she was not ready until 7 1/2 months. She was slow to move through the foods but by 10 months was well on her way. We still nursed until 19 months.
    My youngest was a bit different, she was so curious about food and would pretend to eat while we ate. At 6 months we tried oatmeal, she thought it was ok but was miserable a few hours after giving it to her. I decided to wait a few weeks. Next try, few hours later resulted in projectile vomiting and she nearly passed out. Turns out my little one is allergic to oats, of all things!! Solids were tough, she refused purees, she refused to pick up foods, textures were hard. I had to break some sensory issues to really get her into food. I had her pegged as my picky one and weight gain was tough. Well..... baby girl is 2 and I have never seen a child eat as much as she does and she has gained weight, not a heavy weight but in target. Still allergic to oats but that has not been huge deal!

  4. Sorry fo the typos! Oh and I did want to add that I was able to nurse her until 22 months!

    1. Carrie, I'm so glad your daughter is a healthy toddler now, after all those struggles! Thank you for sharing your experience. And way to go on the extended nursing!