For many new parents, knowing when to start solids can be confusing. You will have grandparents, in-laws, sisters and friends all advising when they started solids. Sometimes you will feel as though its a competition as to who could start solids the earliest. It is most definitely NOT a competition. In fact, starting your baby onto solids too early can be hard on their digestive system.
When Can I Give My Baby Solids? Answer: Recommended at 6 months
New parents will read on baby food products that a baby can have their solid food products from age 4 months whereas others will state 6 months leaving the question, when is the right time to feed baby solids? There are many signs you can look out for that will help you decide when your baby is ready for solids, and if you find that you are still concerned about when to start your baby on solids especially if your baby was born prematurely, consult with your pediatrician about starting your baby on solids.
What Happens At Six Months?
When your baby is six months old, it will need iron and other nutrients which is obtained from solid food. Until that age, babies use the iron that is stored in their bodies while they were still in the womb. Baby also gets iron from breast milk and formula. From around six months of age babies appetites will be that much more difficult to satisfy with formula or breast milk. At this stage of their lives babies are ready to experience new textures and tastes. By starting your baby from this age on solids it will help your baby with the development of their teeth and jaws. Solids are about learning to eat.
Signs Your Baby Is Ready For Solids
More than likely your baby will be ready to try solids at around six months of age, if your baby was born prematurely it may take longer. Remember all babies are different and there will be babies that will want to start later as well as some who will be ready earlier. If your baby is getting closer to turning seven months of age and has not started to eat solids you could seek advice from your doctor.
Baby Cues And Signs That They Are Ready For Solids
Your baby will give you visible cues that they are ready for solids. Look out for your baby giving signs such as they will show an interest in food, including what you have on your plate. Babies could also start to regularly put their fingers into their mouths, they may have an increase in appetite for formula or breast feeds or your baby will open their mouth when offered solids on a spoon. One of the most important things is that your baby has good head and neck control and the ability to sit upright when supported. If you give solids to baby before it is ready, they could experience tummy troubles or can develop food allergies. If you replace breast milk or formula with solids too quickly then this can cause your baby to become malnourished.
How To Introduce Solids To Baby
When you are going to introduce solids for the first time it is better for you to try after you have given your baby a drink. Give baby a feed of breast milk or formula first, then provide the solids. The reason for this is when babies are really hungry they will only want what they know will satisfy them which is breast milk or formula. It is good to start to feed baby with a teaspoon of food that you have chosen, once a day. An infant cereal is a good single food to start with and the consistency should be very runny. You can then increase the amount by a teaspoon per day until baby is eating a maximum of two tablespoons.
When your baby is eating two tablespoons you can then offer solid food twice a day. The consistency of the solids can be thickened slightly as your baby eats more. Be sure to look out for signs of intolerance or allergic reactions such as vomiting, diarrhoea or rashes. These signs don’t always show straight away. Try each new food for at least four days before introducing a new food as this will give baby a chance to get used to different textures and tastes. If you find that baby does not like a particular food then you can always re introduce this food when they are older.
Which Foods When?
Apart from introducing cereal as a first food for a baby that is 6 months of age you can also introduce from 6 to 8 months vegetables such as potato, pumpkin and carrot, fruits such as mashed banana, cooked and mashed apple or pear. At this stage baby can also be introduce to toast fingers and sugarless rusks. By eight months babies are capable of chewing, therefore you can start to provide food that is coarsely mashed or minced. By this stage your baby will also be ready to have finger foods, which promote and encourage self feeding. You can try foods such as ground up meats and chicken, whole rice, couscous and pasta, bread, pasteurized cheese and yoghurt.As your child gets used to eating solids, you can switch to offering solids first and a drink second.