“That’s not how we did it”.
Usually a catch-cry we attribute to our folks’ generation. But just the other day at a social event, I was in a conversation with a new Mum and young(ish) friend. The new Mum was talking about her plans to wait until 6 months to introduce solids to her baby and that she would use foods from her family meal. These plans elicited the said comment from her friend, who went on to describe having a baby that was so hungry she had started solids at 4 ½ months. This friend described using rice cereal and puree fruit with gradual change in texture over time.
Both Mums were obviously seekers of information and both were using this to make the best decision for their baby. But the range of information out there can make working out the best way to introduce solids, well, really difficult.
Let me get down to the truth of it, then you can decide the best way for you and your baby.
Fact 1: Breastmilk or formula provides all the nutrients your baby needs for the first six months of life.
This means, you have until six months of age to start introducing solids to your baby, before your baby is starting to be at risk of not getting enough to eat. You do not need to introduce solids earlier than this to make sure your baby is not hungry.
This information forms the crux of current advice and is a worldwide standard. It is more recent interest in allergy prevention that has questions being raised about introducing solids earlier than 6 months.
Fact 2: Before four months a baby’s body doesn’t cope well with solids.
We’re talking kidneys, gut etc. and not just the mouth. So we’re listening to this one!
Fact 3: We do not know for sure how best to prevent allergies in children.
But there are experts out there having a good crack at it. The expert body on food allergy in Australia is ASCIA. ASCIA states that to prevent risk of allergies in children, introduce solids around 6 months of age, but not before 4 months. They have a wonderful website that goes into more detail for you at https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/allergy-prevention/ascia-how-to-introduce-solid-foods-to-babies
Fact 4: The advice to start solids when you baby is showing readiness has not wavered.
So this seems to be pretty consistent advice and worth listening to. Signs can be difficult to distinguish from general interest in watching what you are doing, but you are essentially looking for your baby being able to sit upright (with support), reaching out for your food and opening their mouth when you move the food towards it.
If you’ve decided your baby is ready, how to? There are various approaches, and all can work well, providing you are able to include a wide variety of foods. In Part Two of my blog on Introducing Solids – Food Ideas, expect to find more specific information on what food to provide your baby and meal and menu ideas.
As always, please take this blog as general advice. If you have any specific concerns about your baby, please come and see me at Bayside Dietetics or your preferred paediatric dietitian.