Introducing solid foods is a deliberate process of ups and downs. Mostly downs, since that’s where most of the food goes. Down the wall. Down their shirt. Down your sock? Really? How in the hell … You get it. Mess aside, your kid can’t live on a liquid diet forever. It’s important they start putting something solid in their mouth (besides nipples — if they aren’t for eating then why are they so tasty?) some time between 4 and 6 months of age.
Starting later than 6 months can lead to not-fun things like iron deficiency and anemia (for the strictly breast milk set), slow growth, or even a general dislike of solid foods — and hell if your kid’s not gonna love them some ribs. Starting before 4 months, on the other hand, can increase obesity risks and is a straight up choking hazard; kids that age physically can’t coordinate swallowing movements yet. So you get either Robert Smith or Momma Cass. Basically.
But no, Mommas and Poppas, simply jamming food in your kid’s mouth isn’t The Cure. (They’ll love that gem someday.) First, you need to know they’re ready. The guidelines are simple:
- They can hold their head up while sitting in a high chair with decent control. For an otherwise uncoordinated human bobblehead.
- They can manipulate their tongue in such a way as to move food from pie-hole to gullet.
- They’re double their birth weight; around 13 pounds is the benchmark. That usually happens around … Hey, 4 months! Look at that!
- They show interest when your mackin’ on a tasty burger. Here’s a fun game: wave a french fry in front of them. Do they want that golden delicious goodness in their face right now? Awesome. It’s time to start solids. But not with a french fry. Ha! Babies are such suckers!
Once you decide to start solids, make sure breastfeeding stays in the picture to ensure the kid gets all the benefits nature provides. Also help the kid understand eating is awesome by encouraging them with vocal yummy noise shenanigans. Not startled gasps over how much worse they are at eating than the dog.
Experts also suggest consulting this handy 5-point checklist for introducing solids. For real, though, as you introduce new foods, check for signs of allergic reactions, which can include vomiting, rashes, or “fake an injury I gotta get off the field now” diarrhea. Also, you’re about to experience a whole new brand of poop. So … Enjoy!