Ask Judy: Is It Too Early To Start My Baby On Solids?

Dear Judy, My baby is four months old and my pediatrician is recommending that I start my baby on solids. I just don’t think he is ready? He isn’t even sitting up yet. What would you suggest? My gut tells me that I shouldn’t be doing it yet. Do you think I am doing any harm by waiting?

As a mother, you should always trust your instinct. No one knows your baby as well as you do! If your gut says wait, then it is best to wait.

In this case, it is also good to look at what pediatricians and lactation consultants recommend. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends waiting until a baby is at least 6 months of age before starting any type of solids. They used to recommend starting solids between 4 and 6 months, but last year changed their recommendation to be 6 months. So it sounds like your pediatrician is operating under the old guidelines. The reason that they changed their recommendation is that your baby’s digestive system isn’t ready to digest the complex proteins found in foods when your baby is so young. So your gut is correct – your baby is too young at only 4 months of age to start solids.

In addition, a breastfed baby doesn’t actually “need” anything other than your breastmilk for the first 12 months of his/her life. The only reason to start solids during the first year of life is for the experience of different tastes and textures – not for the nutritional value.

Nutritionally, your breastmilk provides 100% of what your baby needs.

There is no rush to start solids. As a mother, you will know when your baby is ready. Until then, relax and enjoy this time with your little one. It goes so quickly. Before you know it they will be talking and walking! Know that you are doing what is right and feel confident about your decisions.

When did you start your baby on solids? Please leave a comment and share your story with our readers.

10 comments to Ask Judy: Is It Too Early To Start My Baby On Solids?

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Judy Masucci, Be Nice Prenatal. Be Nice Prenatal said: RT @MommyNews: Is It Too Early To Start My Baby On Solids?? Find out here! #breastfeeding […]

  • Here’s the La Leche League guidelines for starting solids:

    The jist of it is this:

    “Breastfed babies do not need to have complementary food introduced until about the middle of the first year. Before that time, you will notice some signs that your baby is changing developmentally, in preparation for beginning solids in a few months. You will notice that:

    •he becomes more sociable, playing and holding “conversations” with you during a nursing session
    •he has a growth spurt and nurses more frequently for a while
    •he imitates the chewing motions you make whilst eating — he is practicing!

    You will know that he is really ready to start solids when:

    •he is about six months old
    •he can sit up without any support
    •he continues to be hungry despite more frequent nursing which is unrelated to illness or teething
    •he has lost the tongue-thrusting reflex and does not push solids out of his mouth
    •he can pick up things with his finger and thumb (pincer grasp)

    Babies who are ready for solids can usually feed themselves. Mothers often report that they knew their babies were ready when they picked up food from a plate, chewed it, swallowed it, and wanted more.”

    All of my (three) kids started grabbing food off my plate at six or seven months… but it was just fun to feel in their mouth and taste. They certainly didn’t eat any noticable amount until about a year, and I would estimate that they didn’t pass the 50/50 mark for calories from food vs. nursing until about age two.

    I don’t “do” baby food, and I absolutely will not sit there and shovel glop into their mouths. They ate modified and appropriate table foods from the get-go. MUCH easier!
    .-= Tiffany (As For My House)´s last blog ..M&M Stewardship =-.

  • Krista

    My ped is pushing solids right now (5 months) for two reasons: it helps them learn how to use a spoon, and it provides iron and other nutrients that baby needs now because her own iron stores are depleting. She maintains that if I didn’t do a little rice cereal, I would need to give baby vitamin supplements?!?!? I’ve read this in a few books, too. But it doesn’t sound logical to me. Has anyone else heard this?

  • Hi Krista, that is crazy! The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) doesn’t recommend starting solids until at least 6 months. Your baby also gets plenty of iron from your breastmilk as long as you are eating a diet that is rich in iron. I wouldn’t worry about it and I would recommend looking for a new pediatrician – one who is up on the recommendations of the AAP and one who supports breastfeeding. The only supplements I have heard of babies needing are vit D and only if you live where you can’t get enough direct sunlight. Also, we are the only country in the WORLD that starts our babies on rice cereal – everyone else starts with meats or veges or fruits. YOU are the parent and you know better than anyone what your baby needs. Do not let your pediatrician scare you into doing something you or your baby may not be ready for. My pediatrician told me that babies don’t need anything except breastmilk for the first 12 months of their lives. The ONLY reason to start solids is for the experience of different tastes and textures. Nutritionally they are not required. I’m sorry that you are getting such poor advice from your pediatrician. I would definitely recommend getting a 2nd opinion. Let me know if you need anything else. you can always contact me directly here: — Judy

  • Krista, the main problem with American society is that formula-fed babies are the norm to which breast-fed babies are compared. It should be the other way around. Most pediatricians don’t know what they should about breastfeeding so they just treat it like formula-feeding. Unfortunate, but true. Follow the LLL and AAP recommendations. :)
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..So Easy, Yet… =-.

  • We started solids at 4 month. I had no intention of doing it until 6 months, but my son was 11lbs 3oz at birth, 16lbs at 8 weeks and 20 lbs by 4 months. He was taking WAY over 40 oz of formula a day, so our ped said it would be ok to start solids then. He could also sit, and hold his head steady, so that helped.

    We were fine with our decision to start at 4 months, but as the parent, YOU have to be comfortable. If your pediatrician is telling you one thing, and you don’t agree, you get the final choice in the matter.

    I agree that (most) babies don’t nutritionally need solids until 6 months… unless you happen to birth a toddler, like I did!

  • I will just say that my own experience was that my son was ready for solids at four or four-and-a-half months, and that it had no negative impact on my breast-feeding. And he loved the solids and digested them fine. I continued to breastfeed until he was 18-months.

    Some of these comments to me seem to want to scare you, like you would harm your baby somehow to give solids. I don’t think that’s true, and you shouldn’t feel pressure to do it one way or the other. Do what’s best for you and your son, and either way, if you start solids now or in a few weeks, he will be just fine. Good luck!

  • Krista

    Judy and all — Thank you so much for your information! I knew that was crazy to suggest that a baby need supplements, but I wondered if I was the only one hearing this. Madeleine (my daughter) had a lot of trouble with nursing at first, so I’ve had to seek advice from lots of moms and the pediatrician wasn’t very helpful back then either. Actually brought out a bottle of formula and tried to give it to her in her office despite my protests that she was breastmilk only. Should have known then!
    While we’re on the subject….how would you suggest balancing breastfeeding and solids once she does start on them? I assume because the solids would be so small at first that she’ll be breastfeeding probably just as much as she does now, but once she starts really eating a lot, how do I determine how much solids and how much breastfeeding, and how do I make sure to keep my supply going once that happens?
    Also, is sitting up on her own a definite MUST before I think about solids? She’s been watching me eat and reaching toward my food a little bit, but she does not sit alone unsupported and doesn’t do the pincer thing with her fingers.

  • If your baby is exclusively breastfed, and is gaining weight fine and doing well developmentally, there’s no reason to start solids at four months. I’d shy away from it, actually, with the prevalence of food allergies these days.

    Like a previous poster said, the US is a formula-fed country against which BF babies are compared, when it should be the other way around. Many US docs are very skeptical of breastfeeding because it can’t be measured, quantified, bought or prescribed.

    That advice about starting solids so that the baby learns how to use a spoon is strange to me. My twins are 15 months old and are just now learning to use forks and spoons. Does the pedi mean eating off the spoon?? I’ve known plenty of mothers who started solids between 4-6 months and still had babies that wouldn’t eat off a spoon.

    Trust your gut! You’re the mom and you know your baby best.
    .-= Two Makes Four´s last blog ..Something Beyond Pepto =-.

  • Introducing solids too early for no apparent reason and against both the mother’s instinct and the vast majority of professional medical opinion (i.e. World Health organization, American Association of Pediatricians, La Leche League) is NOT SUPPORTNG BREASTFEEDING. In my opinion, it is indicative of a fundamental distrust of nature, and women’s bodies which is unfortunately prevalent in our medical system and culture.

    Your breastmilk alone is perfectly able and was designed by nature to feed this child exclusively for the first 6 months.

    And by saying this I’m not “trying to scare you”, I’m trying to encourage you to maximize your breastfeeding experience, trust your body, and avoid falling into a common “booby trap” of not trusting that your breastmilk is sufficient for this 4 month old.

    (see for the origin of the term “booby traps”)

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