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Starting solids: When is the right time?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/starting-solids/AN02145
- With Mayo Clinic emeritus consultant
Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.read biographyclose window
Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.Jay Hoecker, M.D.
Dr. Jay Hoecker, an emeritus member of the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, brings valuable expertise to health information content on primary care pediatrics. He has a particular interest in infectious diseases of children.
He's a Fort Worth, Texas, native, certified as a pediatrician by the American Board of Pediatrics and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He was trained at Washington University's St. Louis Children's Hospital, and in infectious diseases at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He has been with Mayo Clinic since 1989.
"The World Wide Web is revolutionizing the availability and distribution of information, including health information about children and families," Dr. Hoecker says. "The evolution of the Web has included greater safety, privacy and accuracy over time, making the quality and access to children's health information immediate, practical and useful. I am happy to be a part of this service to patients from a trusted name in medicine, to use and foster all the good the Web has to offer children and their families."
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Starting solids: When is the right time?
When's the right time to start feeding a baby solid foods?
from Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.
The best window of opportunity for starting solids is generally between ages 4 months and 6 months. During this time, babies begin to develop the coordination needed to close their lips around a spoon as well as move solid food from the front to the back of their mouths for swallowing.
Starting solids too early — before age 4 months — can:
- Pose a risk of aspiration — or sucking food into the airway — since most babies don't have the oral motor skills to safely swallow foods before age 4 months
- Cause a baby to get too much or not enough calories or nutrients
- Increase a baby's risk of obesity
In addition, starting solids before age 4 months hasn't been shown to help babies sleep better at night.
Starting solids too late — after age 6 months — poses another set of issues. Waiting too long can:
- Slow a baby's growth
- Cause iron deficiency in breast-fed babies
- Lead to oral motor function delays
- Cause an aversion to solid foods
Postponing solids — including highly allergenic foods — past 4 to 6 months hasn't been shown to prevent asthma, hay fever, eczema or food allergies.
In addition to your baby's age, look for other signs that he or she is ready to start eating solid foods. Can your baby hold his or her head in a steady, upright position? Can your baby sit with support? If you answer yes to these questions and you have the OK from your baby's doctor, you can begin supplementing your baby's liquid diet. Remember, however, breast milk or formula remains your baby's primary source of nutrition until age 1.
If you're concerned about food allergies or any close relatives have a food allergy, check with your baby's doctor or a dietitian before starting solids. You might consider introducing single-ingredient solids at a rate of no more than one new food a week. In addition, you might consider giving your child his or her first tastes of a highly allergenic food, such as eggs, fish or peanut butter, at home — rather than at a restaurant — with an oral antihistamine available, just in case. If your child doesn't have a reaction, you can continue introducing the food in gradually increasing amounts.Next question
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- Zeratsky KA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 4, 2011.