Babies start to have solid foods around 6 months. This is the time their guts, kidneys, immune systems and gag reflex can cope with food. There are 2 things to look for as signs baby is ready to have a go, and one test which you can do once the signs are showing to see if they really are ready.
- Being able to sit up and hold their head steady. Don’t worry if they are still a little wobbly, they just need a clear path for the food to go down their throat – babies shouldn’t be fed solids in a reclining position.
- Being able to pick something up and put it in their mouth (hand, eye, mouth coordination).
- Once you see the signs (not before), get some soft food for example a well cooked vegetable and give it to them either mashed, pureed or in a long thin piece (like a cooked stick of carrot or some peeled and cooked broccoli stalk). If they can move the food from the front of the mouth to the back of their mouth and swallow it, they are ready. If they push it out with their tongue and don’t swallow, leave it a few weeks before trying again.
The myths about when baby is ready to start
- Baby food jars say 4 months plus so they should start at 4 months (this is a safety thing – you shouldn’t give solids before 4 months).
- Baby is waking up more (there could be all sorts of reasons for this – not necessarily hunger).
- Baby is hungry after a feed (most of their calories still come from milk at first so it might just mean they need more milk).
- Baby has slowed their weight gain (have a look in their red book – they should be tracking a centile, this doesn’t mean they gain the same amount when they are 5 months as they did when they were 2 months).
- Baby is watching me eat (that’s how they learn! It’s great they are watching you).
- Baby is starting nursery soon so I need to start before (nursery need to be able to feed your baby otherwise they shouldn’t be looking after them – check out my article on what to look for in a nursery when it comes to food).
And finally make sure you are ready too
- Get them weighed.
- Learn about weaning.
- Do a first aid course.
- Get the right equipment.
- Choose a good time of day
If you would like further information, please get in touch. Remember every baby is different. If your baby was premature, seek advice from your GP before commencing solids.