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Starting Solids and Your Baby's Size

What you've heard: "The bigger my baby, the sooner I should feed her solid foods."

The truth: Your baby's size shouldn't be a factor in deciding when to introduce solids like iron-fortified cereal. What matters: her developmental readiness for them.

"Many parents think they should offer solid foods when their babies are four months old  -- or younger," says Eyla Boies, M.D., clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. "But recent evidence suggests that most babies don't need them until they're about six months old." Giving solids before 4 months may increase the risk of allergies and Type 1 diabetes (and is also a choking hazard).

You'll know your baby's ready if:

  • She can sit up well in a high chair with little or no assistance.
  • She reaches for food or watches intently when she sees you eating.
  • When spoon-fed rice cereal, she can push it to the back of her mouth and swallow without gagging.

Some babies show signs of readiness as early as 4 months, but wait until 5 months to start them on solids. Others may lag until 7 months, and that's fine  -- if they're growing normally and are developmentally on track.

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