Solids: Is your baby ready?
Starting solids is usually a very exciting time for mums, particularly first timers. There is often the lingering thought that starting solids may help your baby sleep through (although often it doesn’t), and now you’re past the newborn phase you probably feel ready to try something new. Funnily enough, the second, and third time mums are usually happier to wait as long as possible before starting, perhaps it’s because they know what they are in for.
So, you think you’re ready to say goodbye to pleasant smelling poo’s, simple café lunches, and being able to eat freely without having to share? OK, well babies are typically ready to try basic first foods at around six months of age*.
So, how do you know if your baby is ready?
- Your baby is interested in what you are eating and tries to grab at the food.
- Your baby can hold his head up on his own.
- Your baby practices little ‘chewing’ motions with his mouth.
- It’s getting harder to fill your baby up on milk alone.
- Your baby has lost the tongue thrust reflex. You can test this by giving your baby a spoon, does he put it in his mouth and suck or thrust it out with his tongue?
Starting too early
Feeding your baby before they are ready may increase their risk of developing allergies, infections or experiencing upset tummies as their digestive system may not be ready to digest anything other than milk. You may also notice their growth slows as they consume less breast milk or formula. This in turn can affect your milk supply if you are breastfeeding.
Starting too late
On the flip side, delaying the introduction of solids beyond 6 months can also affect growth in your baby as breast milk or formula might not be enough to meet their energy and nutrient requirements. Delaying, solids may slow their development and the risk of developing an allergy is greater. The introduction of solids around 6 months is important as part of their physical and intellectual development. Zinc and iron stores can become depleted around this age so the introduction of iron fortified rice cereal and iron-rich foods is necessary.
One of my most favourite posts on the whole blog is the raising a good eater article. When you are starting solids with your baby you have the unique moment in their life to really provide the best possible food journey. This is a great read and share for all your mummy friends starting out.
*Before 6 months it is recommended by the Worth Health Organisation (WHO), National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) and the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) that they stay exclusively on breast or formula milk. A few years ago it was suggested babies could begin solids around 4 months of age, but more recently it is recommended waiting closer to the 6 month mark when babies’ digestive systems are more mature.