Starting Solids with your Baby – when is the right time?
Starting your little one on solids is an important milestone – for everyone involved, however it can also be an incredibly stressful time as a parent. This is especially the case when it’s your first bubs and you are incredibly sleep deprived and you often feel like you are second guessing everything you do!
I know it’s a time when we as mums compare our own babies to others such as those in our mothers group. We then start to worry that our children are not progressing at the same “perfect” rate as others. Even though we are told that all babies progress at their own individual rate that is unique to them, it’s still human nature to both compare and worry.
So when is the best time to start solids?....... Is it 4 months? 6 months? Something else now?
In short - the National Guidelines are: Not before 4 months and not after 6 months, but when your baby is developmentally ready!
…now let me explain in more detail….Here we go 😊
Until around six months of age, your baby’s nutritional needs are met 100% by either breast milk or infant formula alone and nothing else is required. Even after your baby has started on solid foods, breast milk or infant formula is still a significant and important source of their nutrition.
When they are around six months old, their nutrition needs start to change and this is why we need to start solids – to support their needs for growth and development
There are some clear signs that your baby is ready to start solid foods:
· They are able to hold their head upright unassisted (without you holding it)
· They are able to sit up (with support)
· They are losing or have lost the “tongue thrust” reflex which pushes food back out
· They are interested in what others are eating around them – they will often be watching you eat, reaching towards your food and trying to grab some
· They may be hungry even after a breastfeed or bottle
Solids too early…..
It is definitely not a competition and mums should not feel pressured to start too early as it can bad for bubs for a number of reasons. If they are not developmentally ready on the outside, then they may not be ready on the inside either – meaning that their digestive system may be too immature and not yet ready to cope with food. Their swallowing skills may also not have properly developed yet.
Solids too late……
Solids need to be started by 6 months of age is because there are particular nutrients that they need to get from food. The iron content in breastmilk is very low/running out by 6 months, which is why in a breast-fed baby, the “first food” should be rich in iron such as baby rice cereal (iron fortified). Other issues that may arise if solids are very delayed are feeding issues and speech problems.. Research has also shown us that the very late introduction of some allergenic foods (such as egg and nut) can increase a child’s risk of developing a food allergy.
If you find that you are still unsure about whether or not your little one is ready for solid foods chat your local Child and Family Health Nurse, Doctor or Paediatric Dietitian. Links to the WCH “first foods” resource and the ASCIA Infant Feeding Guidelines can be found on the “free info” section of my website