Physical Development (Small Motor)
If your child is enjoying her experience in the high chair, you may want to offer her a sippy cup. Make sure you offer her a smaller sippy cup that she can easily hold using both hands clutched to handles. In the beginning, there will probably be a fair amount of liquid dripping down her chin, making her wet. (Use these tips for introducing baby a sippy cup.)
And beware because just as she will learn to drink from the cup, she will also learn that it can be hurled and then lands with a loud sound. ("Hey, this is fun!")
Starting Solid Foods
Between months four and six, many parents wonder about starting solid foods. Pediatricians agree that up until she is 9 months old, your baby gets all her required daily nutrients from breast milk or formula. It is important to recognize that there is no calendar-specific time for you to start your baby on solid food. Some babies are very content with breastfeeding and show no interest in food until past six months. But around this time some babies become curious about what they see their parents eating and want to know more about food.
There are some specific signs that indicate if your baby is ready to be introduced to solids. First, is she interested? Often babies at this age will eye your food, touch your plate, pick up a piece of food, examine it, and try to put in their mouths. Pretty clear that baby is interested, right?
There are also some anatomical signs if baby is ready:
- Baby must be able to hold up her head well. If there are any doubts about her ability to do so, wait on offering solid food.
- You might notice baby's tongue-thrust reflex to push out solid food. This reflex protects baby from choking on solid matter and often goes away around four to six months.
- Babies must learn the skill of pushing solid food to the back of the mouth so that it can be swallowed.
- Baby's lower lip needs to have the coordination to be able to draw food off of a spoon.
- Gastrointestinally, a baby's intestines must be mature enough for solid food, meaning they are able to produce certain digestive enzymes to process the food.
Nevertheless, you may be curious about your baby's reception to solid food. There are specific foods that are recommended for a baby's first experience. Think about the consistency; go for foods easy on the digestive system and taste buds. Parents often like to start with cereals, rice or barley, mixed with breast milk or formula. Other popular first foods are mashed up bananas, squash, sweet potatoes, applesauce, pears, and carrots either prepared by you or from a jar.
Watch your baby's reaction to these foods. If she is pushing out with her tongue, chances are she is not ready for solids. Don't worry, in no time, she'll be ordering from the kids menu.
Part of the experience of eating solid food is exploring the food. This includes using fingers and whole hands to feel the food and eventually try to put it in her mouth all by herself. How much you can tolerate of Baby's exploration of food is an individual family decision; however, it is important to remember that it is a perfectly normal part of development and helps her master the art of finger feeding. Our advice: Put a huge bib on her, let her go for it, and hose her down when she is done. Bon appetit!
More Development Help
As you're considering your child's development, keep in mind that all babies are unique. Whether your baby reaches milestones early or late, she has her own developmental path to follow. The dividing lines between these months are very fuzzy. If you have any concerns or questions about your baby's development, please check with her healthcare provider.
- Use our Development Tracker to check off Baby's 4-7 month milestones.
- Stay organized with our new-parent To-Do List.
- What's the most common medical concern for babies this age? Check it out!
Now...Let's Take a Closer Look at Each Week
- Week 18: Synchronizing Sound with Movement
- Week 19: Prefering Music to Talking
- Week 20: Understanding Trajectory
- Week 21: Matching Sound with Movement