Timing for Starting Solids

Timing for Starting Solids

Dr. Greene with Kelly Rutherford of Gossip Girl Fame

One of the questions I’m asked repeatedly on my Feeding Baby Green book tour is, “What is the best timing for starting solids.” My take on the best timing to start solid foods is different than what I’ve seen elsewhere. It depends on what kids are taking before that first bite of solids.

Breast-fed babies are already getting perfect, complex real food. Not only does breast milk provide ideal nutrient building blocks, provide ideal immune building blocks, provide an ideal closeness with Mom, and provide the greenest feeding choice imaginable, but it also provides a myriad of subtly different flavor combinations — helping to teach the baby to enjoy variety and to enjoy the foods that Mom eats. I suggest exclusive breastfeeding until babies vigorously demand solids, usually about 6 months (watching the baby for cues, not the calendar). Continuing breastfeeding in addition to solids remains valuable long after the first birthday.

Formula-fed babies, though, are getting a simple, processed food that addresses only the main nutrient needs we understand so far. I’m grateful we have them for when needed, but the babies are exposed to only one flavor profile, again and again for months on end. I suggest starting real food much earlier for these babies, when they demonstrate strong interest in what Mom is eating — usually around 4 months. This gives them complex nutrients for building blocks now and extends the window of flavor-preference learning before Neophobia (a phase of suspicion of new foods) sets in with toddlerhood.

Delaying or avoiding any real food beyond 4 to 6 months has never been shown to decrease allergies. Rather, I suggest avoiding the most allergenic foods when a child is taking antibiotics or when the gut is otherwise inflamed, as from illness.

Dr. Alan Greene

As a father of four himself, Dr. Greene has devoted himself to freely giving real answers to parents' real questions -- from questions about those all too common childhood conditions to those that address the most recent and rare pediatric illnesses. His answers combine cutting edge science, practical wisdom, warm empathy, and a deep respect for parents, children, and the environment. He is also an electrifying public speaker, and has personally touched many during his talks in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Dr. Greene is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of California at San Francisco. Upon completion of his pediatric residency program at Children's Hospital Medical Center of Northern California he served as Chief Resident. He entered primary care pediatrics in January 1993.

Dr. Greene is the Past President of The Organic Center and on the Board of Directors of Healthy Child Healthy World. He is a founding partner of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment. He also consults for the Environmental Working Group.

In 1995, he launched DrGreene.com, cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site” on the Internet. His award-winning site has received over 80 million Unique Users from parents, concerned family members, students, and healthcare professionals. In addition to being the founder of DrGreene.com, he is the Medical Director for HealthTap.

In 2010 Dr. Greene founded the WhiteOut Movement to change how babies in the United States are fed. In 2012 he founded TICC TOCC - Transitioning Immediate Cord Clamping To Optimal Cord Clamping. He is also the founder of KidGlyphs, a free iPhone app that provides a tool for young children to express themselves beyond their verbal skills while teaching them important language skills.

Dr. Greene is the Founding President of the Society for Participatory Medicine and has served as both President and Board Chair of Hi-Ethics (Health Internet Ethics. He is on the Board of Directors for Healthy Child Healthy World, The Lunchbox Project, and The Society for Participatory Medicine. He has also served as an advisor to URAC for both their inaugural and their updated health web site accreditation program. He is a founding member of the e-Patient Scholars Working Group, and a founding board member of the Center for Information Therapy.

Dr. Greene is a regular columnist for Parenting Magazine. He is also the Pediatric Expert for The People’s Pharmacy (as heard on NPR) and Healing Quest (seen on PBS stations). He was the original Pediatric Expert for both Yahoo! and iVillage.

Dr. Greene is the author of Feeding Baby Green (Wiley, 2009), Raising Baby Green (Wiley, 2007), From First Kicks to First Steps (McGraw-Hill, 2004), The Parent's Complete Guide to Ear Infections (People's Medical Society, 1997), and a co-author of The A.D.A.M. Illustrated Family Health Guide (A.D.A.M., Inc., 2004). He is the medical expert for three additional books, The Parent's Soup A-to-Z Guide to Your New Baby, (Contemporary Books, 1998) The Parent's Soup A-to-Z Guide to Your Toddler, (Contemporary Books, 1999), and The Mother of All Baby Books, (Hungry Minds, Inc., 2002).

Dr. Greene is a frequent keynote speaker at important events such as Health 2.0 2011 held in San Diego, CA, IFOAM 2008 (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements), held in Modena Italy, the first European Internet health conference, held in Maastricht, the first International eHealth Association Conference, held in Jeddah, and the largest e-Healthcare World Conference, held in Las Vegas, and the first Green Power Baby Shower, held in Hollywood. Dr. Greene also appears frequently on TV, radio, websites, and in newspapers and magazines around the world, including such venues as the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, Fox and Friends, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC network news, NPR, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time Magazine, Parade, Parenting, Child, Baby Talk, Working Mother, Better Home's & Gardens, and the Reader's Digest.

Dr. Greene loves to think about challenging ideas, he enjoys being where nothing manmade can be seen, and he wears green socks.

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  1. Vanessa

    My baby can sit up with support and is 4 months old. I have let her taste my organic bannanas and apples and she loves them. She opens her mouth when a spoon comes her way and I did give her white rice because my mom said that’s ‘what you give them first’. She is breastfeeding and I will keep that up for a while. My gut tells me that the fruits are fine, she likes them and a little bit is fine. But, is she too young to digest fructose? Is it harmful before 6months to allow them to have a tiny bit of what you eat?

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