Many parents are eager to introduce solid foods into their baby's diet. However, for the first few months of life, your baby gets all their required nutrition from their milk feeds alone. During this time, solids are unsuitable for babies as their immune and digestive systems are not sufficiently developed. So, when is the right time to begin offering solids to your baby?
Many paediatricians recommend waiting until the baby is at least six months old before offering solid foods. This is just a general guideline as weaning is a personal decision based on many different factors. Before weaning, milk feeds cater for all your baby’s nutritional requirements. A baby’s digestive system needs time to grow and develop before it can successfully accept food other than milk.
There are signs to look for that will indicate whether your baby is ready for solid foods. It is best to introduce solids when the baby can sit up independently without support. They need good control of their head and the ability to keep it steady and upright. This is a sign that your baby is developing and is therefore using more energy. Your baby will also begin to put objects in their mouth and also suck their fists. You should also notice the loss of tongue-thrust reflex, which is the instinct that babies are born with to push objects away from their mouths. Your baby will also need to understand the motions that accompany chewing so they are able to chew, move the food to the back of the mouth, and swallow. You may notice that your baby is demanding more feeds and no longer seems full after a milk feed. An interest in solid foods, and what other people are eating, is another good indication that your child is ready for solids.
You should be aware that the signs listed above may not be conclusive proof your baby is ready for weaning. You should wait for a combination of all of these signs and if in doubt consult with your healthcare provider.