You may have heard that there is a “window of opportunity” for a baby to learn how to chew and eat solid foods. But this is really more myth than fact. There is no hard evidence that babies who start late on solid foods have any trouble learning to chew and swallow. When your baby is ready, she will eat! It is interesting to know that learning to chew and move foods around in the mouth are key aspects of speech development. If a baby has reached the age of 7-8 months and continues to have absolutely no interest in eating solid foods or can’t seem to move onto lumpier textures, you should consult with your pediatrician as there may be developmental or other issues going on.
There are two reasons why babies should introduced to solids no later than 6 months of age:
- Food Allergies: Several current clinical studies have pointed to the possibility that the late introduction of solid foods might increase the risk of allergies both to foods and to airborne substances such as pollen. While the research in this area continues to evolve, risking possible food allergies is one reason not to wait longer than approximately 6 months to introduce solids.
- Iron Requirements: Babies are born with iron stored in their bodies. Somewhere between 6 and 8 months of age, a baby’s iron stores will begin to gradually deplete and leave her at risk for iron deficient anemia. While iron will not completely and totally disappear from your baby’s body, leaving your baby with no iron, her iron levels may fall significantly. Waiting too long to introduce baby to solid foods may put baby at risk of inadequate iron intake.