Transitioning your baby from milk to solids is a big step, and it’s one that many parents worry over.
How much do they feed their baby? What should they be feeding their child and when? How do they go about getting food into their baby? Those are all critical questions but
The first step should be making sure your baby is ready for solids.The actual age you can start solids is a bit of an area of debate. The World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society all suggest starting solids at around six months of age.
All three organizations also note that solids should not be started before four months. As with most milestones, if your baby was premature, then you may need to start at their adjusted age.
It’s also a myth that starting solids will help your baby sleep through the night. While I wish this one were right – it’s not. So don’t start your 3-month-old on solids with the hope of a good night’s sleep.
Unfortunately, there’s also evidence that starting your baby on solids too early can lead to an increased chance of obesity in early childhood.
That being said, don’t rush ahead and start spooning puree at your baby the day they turn four months. If you know the signs, your baby will tell you when they are ready to start on solid food (and I’ll give you a hint – it’s often closer to 6 months).
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Signs Your Baby Is Ready To Start On Solids
Sign #1: The Right Age
As mentioned above, the exact recommended age a baby can start solids ranges from 4-6 months. Keep in mind that if your baby was premature, you’d have to to go by their adjusted age.
The average baby will be able to start solids at around 6 months.
If you feel like they are ready to start earlier check with your doctor before jumping in. And unless your doctor tells you never start a baby on solids before 4 months.
Sign #2: Able to sit up unsupported
When you put your baby down on their playmat are they able to sit up with minimal support from you?
Starting solids is so much easier if your baby has the core strength to sit up in their high chair without slouching.
Sign #3: Able to hold their neck and head in a stable upright position
When your baby is seated upright are they able to keep their head in a stable position?
No matter if you plan to start on purees or baby led weaning – both methods require that your baby have complete control of their head and neck.
Sign #4: Able to hold food in their mouth with their tongue pushing it out
Babies have a powerful extrusion reflex which starts to diminish after four months. If your baby still has a strong reflex, then any food you place in their mouth will just be pushed out again.
Sign #5: Your baby can ‘tell’ you that they’re finished
Does your baby tell you that they are finished feeding by leaning back or turning away?
This may be more evident in a bottle fed baby over a breastfed baby. Still, it’s essential for your baby to be able to let you know when they have had enough solids.
Sign #6: Shows interest in food
This one is huge. Both of my babies were trying to grab food off my plate before I started them on solids.
Feeding your baby solids for the first time is going to be far more enjoyable for both of you if your baby wants to try the food you’re offering.
All together now
If your baby is showing one of the signs on the above list that’s great, but it’s not enough to start solids yet. You want your baby to show most, if not all, of the above signs before you jump into feeding them solids.
So What Do Can You Do If Your Baby Is Not Ready
If your baby is still under six months and not showing signs of readiness, then it’s best to wait a little longer.
Until then I suggest bringing out your highchair and including your baby in family meals even if they aren’t eating.
Bring out the baby spoon and bowl you plan to use and let them play with them while the rest of you eat. It’s excellent practice for your baby and giving them their spoon to chew on is a unique way for them to get used to the feel and shape of it.
Watch and listen to your baby and start solids when they are ready. Trust me; it’ll make the experience more enjoyable for both of you.