How Baby’s Motor Development Impacts Their Feeding
Starting solid foods is an exciting milestone for baby! It opens up a whole new world of tastes and textures for them, and you can start to learn more about which foods are their favorites.
Baby typically starts solid foods around 4-6 months of age, but did you know that baby’s readiness to start solids depends on their motor abilities? As baby gets stronger, they are able to digest more than just breastmilk and formula. This is why they’re able to make the leap to solid foods. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting solid foods with baby.
These are some markers that baby may be ready for the next phase of feeding!
Baby may be ready to start solids if they are sitting up with support and able to hold their head and neck up. This is because their core is stronger, which gives them more control over their neck and head. Baby is usually able to do this around 4-6 months of age. It’s also a good sign if they have doubled their birth weight (which means on average baby would be about 13-15 pounds).
- They should start with single-ingredient pureed foods. Single ingredient foods help with detecting allergies. Space out new foods every three days, so if baby does have a reaction, you know which food caused it.
- These beginner solids should always be a smooth, thin consistency with no chunks of food. You can make batches of homemade purees and freeze them in an ice tray. They can also try a single-ingredient, iron-fortified baby cereal at this age.
If baby is sitting independently and crawling, they may be ready to try thicker purees and some mashed foods. This is typically around 7-9 months. Even at this age, a majority of baby’s nutrition will still come from breastmilk or formula.
- Check out these superfoods for some healthy inspiration. Avoid foods with salt and preservatives.
- Baby can also try some soft, mashed foods like baked potatoes; mashed, hard-boiled egg yolk; small pieces of pasteurized cheese; soft breads; and soft, cooked carrots.
- With supervision, you can alternate feeding baby with a spoon and letting them try to feed themselves with a spoon.
If baby is starting to walk, they can begin eating additional solids that are soft and bite-sized, but not necessarily purees. This is typically around 10-12 months. The desired food consistency is soft enough to be mashed with a fork. It should also be bite-sized or finely chopped. The desired maximum size of a piece of food for baby at this age is ½ inch.
- Some good foods include: rice, couscous, and quinoa; scrambled egg yolks; black beans, lentils, and pinto beans; ground meat; bite-sized or finely chopped pieces of cheese; bread, toast, small pieces of crackers, and muffins; cooked pasta that is small in shape.
- By this age, baby should be eating 3 meals a day, plus healthy snacks.
If baby is walking independently, they can begin to eat a wider variety of soft and bite-sized foods. You can encourage them to fully self-feed with utensils.
- You can add foods such as: cooked vegetables like zucchini and broccoli; mixed food textures like macaroni and cheese and casseroles; small pieces of bread and bagels; shredded or small pieces of meat or tofu; low-sugar cereal; soft fish.
- Cow’s milk is typically introduced around this age as well.
- Avoid common choking hazard foods like hot dogs, nuts, whole grapes, popcorn, and hard, sticky, and/or gooey candies.
As always, if you have any questions about baby’s motor or feeding abilities, consult with a healthcare professional. They’ll be able to tell you what’s right for your baby given their abilities and needs.