Most experts agree that babies should be introduced to solids foods between four and six months of age. Here are signs that your little one is ready for jar baby food.
When your baby is first born, feeding is a breeze. Just grab a bottle or offer a breast when your little one gets fussy. It’s not until several months after the birth that feeding gets a little tricky.
Around four months old, I started to notice a change in my son’s eating habits. Even though I had upped his formula intake, he was no longer satisfied with just a liquid diet. While I knew the formula was providing my little one with all the nourishment he needed to thrive, I felt he wasn’t getting his fill at mealtime.
At his next wellness checkup, I asked our pediatrician about introducing solids into my son’s diet.
“Most babies are ready to start solids between four and six months,” she said. “However, it’s also important for babies to show signs that they are developmentally ready for solids, such as sitting up well without support.”
While there’s no exact time when babies should start eating jar food, research has found that babies are being fed solids too early.
More than 40 percent of mothers introduced solid foods to their babies before age four months, according to the Infant Feeding Practices Study II. Some researchers have found that infants may not be developmentally ready before four months.
What the Experts Say
Gradually start introducing solid foods like jar baby food to your little one after four months of age.
Once your baby has mastered infant cereals, he or she may be ready to try fruit or vegetable jar baby foods. If you’re not sure if your baby is ready for the transition, consult with your pediatrician. Here’s a look at what some experts have to say on the subject:
“Give your baby just one new food at a time, and wait at least four days before starting another. After trying new foods, watch for responses such as diarrhea, rash, or vomiting. If any of these occur, eliminate the suspect food from her diet until you’ve consulted your pediatrician.”
Steven P. Shelov, Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age Five
“I recommend that parents start off with rice cereal mixed with either expressed breast milk or formula as a training food until the baby gets good at eating with a spoon. It will vary from baby to baby how long it takes them to master the act of swallowing but once they get good at swallowing the cereal, it is time to start them on baby foods and never eat rice cereal again.”
Clifford Dale James, A First Time Parent’s Survival Guide: A How to Manual for the First Two Years
“Jars are convenient – open the lid, pour half into a microwavable container, heat up in microwave for 30-45 seconds, stir and voila – dinner’s ready! If they are still hungry, serve the other half of jar. If you are a busy working mother, jars can be a lifesaver.”
Alina Charcinski, Mother and Baby Expert’s Non-Fussy Baby Feeding from Bump to Breast & Spoon
“Lentils, peas, chickpeas, and beans, such as butter beans and cannellini beans, are all good first foods, and will offer plenty of protein and iron, as well as fiber and B vitamins. Cook them thoroughly, and puree them with vegetables to make them more tasty, and easier to swallow and digest.”
Annabel Karmel, First Meals and More: Your Questions Asked
“Starting to eat solids is really more about learning to eat food off a spoon instead of out of a nipple. This is a really fun and messy milestone for you and your babies, so get plenty of bibs ready, charge up the camera, and get yourself psyched to have fun making a mess!”
Natalie Diaz, What to Do When You’re Having Two: The Twins Survival Guide from Pregnancy through the First Year
Signs that Baby is Ready for Solids
Look for signs of developmental readiness when determining whether your baby is ready to start eating jar baby food. Pay attention to your baby’s tongue-thrust reflex.
This reflex prevents your little one from choking by sending a signal to the brain to push food out of the mouth with the tongue. Start jar food when the tongue-thrust reflex is gone or diminished.
Adequate head control is also an important developmental sign that your baby may be ready to start jar baby food. To safely eat solid food, an infant needs to have good neck and head control and have the ability to sit up.
Another sign that your baby is ready for solids is if he or she shows interest in food. Maybe your baby stares at your plate or grabs food from your hand.
How to Start Feeding Solids
Once your baby fully understands the concept of eating with a spoon and appears excited or interested in mealtime, create a feeding routine. At four to six months of age, formula or breast milk should still make up the bulk of your infant’s diet. Use solid foods to supplement.
At four to six months, feed your baby two meals, each two to four tablespoons, according to Amy Gorin of American Baby Magazine. When starting jar baby food, watch for signs of food allergies, such as rash, diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, or increased gassiness.
Make the Transition to Solids Easier
The transition from bottle to solids isn’t always smooth sailing. Remember that eating solid foods is a new experience for your little one. Although most babies are not “picky” eaters, it’s not unusual for your baby to have his or her favorites. Continue to offer your baby new textures and flavors to create a diverse diet with a multitude of nutrients.
When starting jar baby food, consider the following tips:
- Offer your baby a bottle or breast before offering solid food. Formula and breast milk contain all of the nutrients your baby needs the first year of life.
- Feed your baby jar food shortly after waking when he or she is wide awake and better able to focus on eating.
- Start with just a few teaspoons of food during the first few weeks. When your baby turns his head away from the spoon, it’s usually a sign that he or she wants to stop.
- Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t eat much at first. It takes time for infants to get used to the new taste and texture of jar food.
Not all babies begin to eat solids at the same time. Pushing your baby to eat jar baby food before he or she is ready can actually cause more harm than good.
Mealtime should be fun for both you and baby. By six months of age, most babies should be introduced to solid foods as eating is an important skill.