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May 2018

Most U.S. Babies Are Starting Solid Food Too Early

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing babies to solid foods at about 6 months of age. In the U.S., however, more than half of infants are fed solids before the recommended age, according to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Young child eating from a spoon

Changing guidelines may confuse parents about when to start 

In the study, researchers examined survey data that included information for about 1,500 infants and toddlers. They found that 16% of infants were introduced to solid foods before age 4 months, and 38% started solids between 4 and 6 months. Starting solids too soon may be linked with an increased risk for obesity and type 1 diabetes, research shows.

According to the study’s authors, guidelines for introducing solids have varied over the past 60 years. In the 1950s, for example, parents were told to start at 3 months of age. Even today, some experts recommend introducing peanut-containing foods as early as 4 to 6 months to infants at high risk for allergies to reduce their chances of developing peanut allergies.

Watch for signs that your baby is ready for solids

Talk with your child’s healthcare provider about the timing for introducing your baby to solid foods. Your baby may be ready if he or she shows signs such as:

  • Good head control

  • Interest in foods, such as watching you eat or reaching for your food

  • Ability to move food from a spoon to his or her throat. If food dribbles out of your baby’s mouth, he or she may not be able to swallow it yet.


Here are tips on how to safely start feeding your baby solids.

Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/24/2018
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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