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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.
By ages 4 months to 6 months, most babies are ready to begin eating solid foods as a complement to breast-feeding or formula-feeding.
What's so magic about ages 4 months to 6 months? It's around this time that babies typically stop using their tongues to push food out of their mouths and begin to develop the coordination to move solid food from the front of the mouth to the back for swallowing.
Keep in mind that waiting until age 6 months before introducing solid foods to babies who are exclusively breast-fed can help ensure that they get the full health benefits of breast-feeding.
Starting solids too early — before age 4 months — might:
- Pose a risk of aspiration — sucking food into the airway
- Cause a baby to get too much or not enough calories or nutrients
- Increase a baby's risk of obesity
Also, 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 might:
- Slow a baby's growth
- Cause iron deficiency in breast-fed babies
- Delay oral motor function
- Cause an aversion to solid foods
Postponing solids — including highly allergenic foods — past 4 to 6 months of age also hasn't been shown to prevent asthma, hay fever, eczema or food allergies.
In addition to age, look for other signs that your baby is ready for 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.Next question
Breast-feeding and alcohol: Is it OK to drink?
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