Up to the age of 6 months, your baby will get all the nutrients they need from breast milk or infant formula. As they grow and develop, the nutrients your baby acquired from the womb become depleted. This is why in addition to their milk feeds, your baby now needs supplementation from solid foods.
Introducing solids welcomes new tastes and textures and teaches your baby how to eat. In addition, it helps to develop their teeth and jaw, while also helping to build skills for language later in life.
The general recommendation for starting solids is to wait until your baby is around 6 months old. Some babies may be ready to try solid foods a little earlier than this, while others might be a little later. Your baby’s age is a guide. Most babies show an interest in solid food from the age of about 6 months, but should not be offered before 4 months. There are other signs your baby is ready for solids too.
How do I know if my baby is ready to start solids?
Here are some signs your baby may be ready for solids:
– They are able to sit upright independently
– They have good head and neck control
– Their tongue extrusion reflex is fading
– They show an interest in food – (they may open their mouth if food comes towards them, or try to steal food off your plate!)
How should I introduce solids to my baby?
You can start off by offering your baby 1 or 2 teaspoons of solid foods each day. This doesn’t necessarily need to be offered on a teaspoon, this is just a guide to how much food to offer. You can also offer your baby soft finger foods they can pick up and feed themselves. Slowly increase the amount of food you are offering your baby according to their appetite.
At this stage, it’s is important to continue giving your baby their milk feed first, so they receive the adequate nutrients the need to grow and thrive. Breast milk or formula will remain an important part of your baby’s diet until they reach 12 months of age. Although your baby might not have many (or any) teeth at this stage, solids don’t need to be pureed. Start off with smooth, soft or mashed foods, offering a variety of textures and flavours. Babies can generally eat a modified version of what the rest of the family eats, with some exceptions.
Foods to avoid when starting solids
There are some foods that should be avoided when starting solids. These include:
– Honey (this should not be given to babies under 12 months of age)
– Raw eggs (should not be given to babies under 12 months of age)
– Low fat dairy products (full fat dairy products should be given until age 2)
– Whole nuts, whole grapes, popcorn, and other foods that may pose a choking risk. These should be avoided well into toddlerhood.
You do not need to avoid common allergen foods unless you have a family history of allergies or concerns your child may be allergic to anything. If this is the case, speak to your healthcare provider for advice about introducing these foods.
By the age of 12 months, your baby should be having around 3 small meals a day, along with their breastmilk or formula feeds.
For more information, speak to your Health Nurse or Pediatrician for the latest guidelines on introducing solids.