Various organizations give different guidelines on when to start with solids. Some suggest from 6 months and onwards – which means that baby will receive milk exclusively for the first 6 months of his life. Others suggest introducing solids between the ages of 4 – 6 months to reduce the risk of developing allergies.
The best way to determine if your baby is ready to start eating solids is to look at their developmental milestones:
- Baby can sit up without any
- Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and does not automatically push solids out of his mouth with his tongue.
- Baby is ready and willing to chew.
- Baby is developing a “pincer” grasp, where he picks up food or other objects between thumb and forefinger. Using the fingers and scraping the food into the palm of the hand (palmar grasp) does not substitute for pincer grasp development.
- Baby is eager to participate in mealtime and may try to grab food and put it in his mouth.
As soon as all of these developmental milestones are visible in your baby you can start with the introduction of solids.
WHAT TO GIVE:
Various foods (like fruit / vegetables and starches, like rice cereal) that can be pureed can be included in the introduction phase. Choose one food item at a time (most mothers start with baby cereal – especially rice cereal mixed with breast milk or formula milk). Do not add any flavourings; like salt / aromat / marmite / soup powders, sugar, butter, etc. when preparing or before serving. This will alter the original taste of the food item and baby will not get use to the flavour.
It can take up to 20 exposures before baby might accept certain foods. In the beginning there can be a lot of spitting the food out, refusing to eat it, crying, turning the head away or closing the lips tightly. This is all normal – the only ‘food’ that baby is used to is milk, and suddenly you are forcing weird (and sometimes wonderful), funny textured food into his mouth. This is flavours and textures that he must get used to. Try exposing baby to all of the various fruit, vegetables and starches (that can be pureed), one at a time until he accepts it. Do not mix different food types yet.
Introduce protein from 8 months and onwards – now various food groups can be mixed: for example – give shredded chicken with pureed potato and pumpkin. Make sure the food is still soft and has a lot of sauce to make swallowing easy. Slowly increase the texture until one year of age, where baby can eat the same type of food as the rest of the family. Some babies might take longer to progress to this step and other babies might achieve this step quicker. Every single baby is different.
If you are unsure or need more advice on introducing solids to your baby, make an appointment with a dietitian in your area.