When is the best time to start your baby on solid foods — and what are the best tastes and textures to start them on? All of your questions are answered in this definitive guide to moving your baby from a pure milk diet to solid foods.
Have you ever wondered why babies need to start eating solid foods just four months after entering the world? There’s a reason why they need more than simply milk as they get older and it largely boils down to one important nutrient: iron.
“For the first four to six months of life, your baby uses iron stored in his body from when he was in the womb. He also gets iron from your breastmilk and/or infant formula,” explains the Raising Children Network.
“As your baby grows, his iron stores go down. This means he needs to get iron and other nutrients from solid food, as well as from breastfeeding or infant formula.”
Signs your baby may be ready for solids
Experts are divided on the official best time to start your bub on solids, with the general consensus being that any time from 4 to 6 months old is safe.
Let your own baby’s development and behaviour be your guide when deciding when to introduce solids. Some signs that your baby may be ready for solids may include when your little one:
- Has solid head and neck control
- Can sit upright when supported
- Shows an interest in food by reaching out for food you’re holding, or looking at what’s on your plate
- Opens their mouth when you offer food on a spoon
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Whether you start by offering a meal at breakfast, lunch or dinner, you should aim for consistency by giving your baby their first taste of solids at roughly the same time every day.
Start with simple, bland foods, like Farex rice cereal, pureed avocado or banana (you can add a little cooled, boiled water to create a smoother consistency).
“Try about a teaspoon of rice cereal after a breast or formula feed, then gradually increase the amount until your baby is eating one to two tablespoons,” advises the Western Australian Department of Health.
“Your baby may not be too sure about solid foods — more may end up on the floor than in your baby’s mouth. But in time, especially if you are patient and relaxed, your baby will learn to eat and enjoy a wide range of family foods.”
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Babies are constantly experimenting with different tastes and textures, so remember that as long as you continue to attempt feeding them good, healthy meals and snacks, they’ll get the essential nutrients they need.
“Solids can be introduced gradually,” adds the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. “There is no need to force food — human milk or formula is still the most important part of the baby’s diet [at around 6 months of age]. At this stage solid foods are ‘tastes’ for your baby.”
Dos and don’ts of introducing solid foods:
- Introduce different foods one at a time.
- Gradually increase the thickness and amount of feeds.
- Try a range of nutritious foods, including iron-fortified cereals, fruit, vegetables and proteins, including steak, fish and chicken.
- Add solid foods to a baby’s bottle, as it could become a choking hazard.
- Add more scoops of formula to thicken your baby’s milk feed; this can be dangerous, as your baby could “overdose” on certain nutrients. “Babies need to learn that there is a difference between eating and drinking,” adds the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.