Most babies are ready around 6 months. Some start as early as 4 months (but not earlier) if baby is showing all the readiness signs, seems still hungry between milk feedings, and pediatrician advises starting.
Head control: Baby can hold head straight up while sitting and turn head toward or away from food
Sitting: Baby can sit upright mostly on their own
Interest in food: Baby reaches for your food, watches intently as you eat, opens mouth when you offer food on a spoon
Reaches & grabs: Baby grabs objects and easily brings them to mouth
Swallows food: Baby doesn't automatically push food out of mouth with tongue (a reflex they have when they're young)
Before 4 months or if baby isn't showing above signs; starting early can be unsafe and make it hard for your child to stay at healthy weight.
Ask your pediatrician; some advise focusing on developmental play like tummy time to strengthen neck, core, and motor skills and to try again at 6.5-7 months.
There is not clear consensus so it's best to check with your doctor. Some experts advise that most healthy preterm babies are ready some time between 6 months chronological & 6 months adjusted age, but to avoid starting before 3 months adjusted age even if baby is 6+ months corrected age.
Milk remains the main source of calories & nutrition for the first year, so why even bother with solids until later? There are lots of reasons not to put it off!
Babies are open to trying almost anything before getting pickier as toddlers later on. Take advantage of this window by exposing them to a variety of flavors & colors.
By ~6 months, babies start needing added nutrition like iron and zinc, which solid foods provide. Their nutritional needs across a broad range of vitamins and minerals will continue to grow over time.
Until now, babies have used one oral motor pattern: sucking. Between 6-9 months is a critical window for babies to learn a new oral skill: chewing. Delaying this can make it harder to learn to chew & swallow later.
The latest food allergy research shows that delaying the introduction of allergenic solid foods increases the risk of food allergies.
Eating solids, especially self-feeding, develops fine motor skills (e.g., bringing food to mouth and grabbing small pieces using the pincer grasp).
Mealtime is a rich opportunity for language learning because it is a daily routine, and repetition is powerful in helping infants learn new words and phrases.