1. Introduce solids at about six months of age
  2. Clues that your baby is ready for solids
  3. Physical readiness for solids
  4. Starting solids too early can cause problems
  5. Don’t leave starting solids too late
  6. Signs that your baby is not interested
  7. Tips for introducing solids
  8. Suggested first foods
  9. Later feeding skills – from 8 to 9 months
  10. Introducing cows milk
  11. Allergy and vegetarianism
  12. Unsuitable foods
  13. Where to get help
  14. Things to remember

Introduce solids at about six months of age

Breast milk is an important food for babies until at least 12 months of age, or longer if the mum and baby desire. Infant formula is important until 12 months. By about six months of age, a baby’s iron stores are low and extra foods will be needed to maintain healthy growth and prevent nutritional problems such as iron deficiency. Start to introduce solids around six months of age – when your baby starts showing interest in food.

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Clues that your baby is ready for solids

When your baby starts to need the nutrients that solid food can provide, there will be obvious signs they are ready to try solid foods. These include:

  • Good head control and able to sit up with support
  • Watching and leaning forwards when food is around
  • Reaching out to grab food or spoons to put in their mouth
  • Opening their mouth when food is offered.

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Physical readiness for solids

Your baby’s organs and body grow and develop certain physical traits between four and six months. This indicates that their body is ready physically for solids. This maturing process includes:

  • Digestive system – digestive enzymes that help to digest food are developed.
  • Immune system – immune gut defense mechanism is fully developed.
  • Mouth and tongue – your baby is able to move food to the back of their mouth and swallow safely.
  • Head and neck – your baby is able to hold their head up; head control helps them to sit up straight and swallow.
  • Kidneys – your baby’s kidneys can now handle the increased load produced by solids.

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Starting solids too early can cause problems

Hungry babies should be offered more breast or formula feeds until they are ready for solids. Some parents want to try solids early, believing this may help baby grow, sleep or settle better. Giving solids too early rarely helps these problems and may lead to other difficulties including:

  • Poor growth, if the solid food replaces breast milk or formula
  • Loose bowel actions or diarrhea, if the baby cannot digest the food.

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Don’t leave starting solids too late

It’s also important that starting solids is not left too late, as this may lead to problems including:

  • Poor growth due to low energy intake
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Feeding problems, particularly if not started before about seven to nine months of age.