When is the best time to introduce solid foods?

Is your baby around 4-to-6 months and showing some signs they might want to eat food?  Or maybe your baby is a newborn and you want to be prepared for complementary food introduction down the road.  Whether you are a new parent or a seasoned pro, it can be daunting to contemplate how and when is the best time to introduce solid foods. 

What do the experts recommend?

Within the last several years, most organizations have shifted to the recommendation of introducing solid foods at 6 months of age instead of 4 months old (AAP, 2022).

Why is this?  Current research suggests that babies are more developmentally ready at this older age making 6 months the best time to introduce solid foods (AAP, 2022; WHO, 2021). In addition, the World Health Organization recommends that complementary foods are best introduced at 6 months because “an infant’s need for energy and nutrients starts to exceed what is provided by breast milk” (WHO, 2021)

Also, the leading research is pointing more toward a delay in introducing solids to 6 months old as protective of possible poor growth (low calorie foods versus higher calorie human milk or formula), illness such as gastrointestinal infections, and malnutrition (Cochrane reviews, 2012 and 2018).

Signs of Readiness for solid foods

The experts agree that around 6 months old is the best time to introduce solid foods.  What are the key criteria you should look for to know that your baby is ready to begin?

  1. Your baby should be sitting unassisted – This shows that they are able to hold themselves steady when eating and their digestive system is mature.
  2. They can reach for food, grab the food, and bring the food to their mouth.
  3. They are no longer pushing their tongue out of their mouth.  This allows your baby to swallow food safely and not spit it out.
  4. They may have one or more teeth to assist with chewing.
  5. Your baby is at least double their birth weight (AAP, 2021).

If you said yes to most of these readiness indicators, that is wonderful!  You and your family are about to embark on a fun voyage of new food discovery.  Next month our blog will focus on the ins and outs of the many ways to feed your baby solid foods. If you are unsure if you baby is ready to start solids foods, schedule a lactation and introducing solid foods consult with Michelle or Tara at Milk Connections Lactation Consulting. We are here to help you and your family reach your infant feeding goals!


AAP, 2022, https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Starting-Solid-Foods.aspx

Cochrane review, 2012, https://www.cochrane.org/CD003517/PREG_optimal-duration-of-exclusive-breastfeeding

WHO, 2021, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/infant-and-young-child-feeding

Cochrane review, 2018, https://www.cochrane.org/CD011768/BEHAV_educational-interventions-improving-complementary-feeding-practices