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How do I know when my baby is ready for solid foods?

Different babies are ready at different ages. It's more about your baby's developmental stage then a particular age. Your baby's digestive system as well as his tongue & mouth have to be developed enough to handle solid foods. Also your baby needs to be able to tell you when he's done or doesn't like a particular food. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of your baby's life, but some doctors advise to start a little bit sooner.

Of course, talk with your pediatrician, but when your baby is between 4-8 months old, you can start to watch for these solid food readiness signs:

- Sitting up without much support and fully developed head & neck control so your baby can turn his head or body if he doesn't want anymore

- Loss of tongue extrusion and gag reflex so that he can get the food in his mouth and swallow

- Interest in the food that adults are eating (aka watching intensely or grabbing for it!)

- Consuming at least 32-40 ounces of formula most days or breastfeeding at least 8-10 times most days and still seeming hungry

- Developing finger pincer grasp and the hand-eye coordination to bring food to his mouth

No matter what age you start your baby on solid foods, remember that solid foods are a compliment to breastmilk (or formula), and are not a substitute. Your baby should still be getting most of his nutrition from nursing or bottle-feeding for the first year!

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