The introduction of solid foods has come a long way the past couple of decades, but it remains a very controversial topic. New moms are often bombarded with opinions and suggestions from health care professionals as well as friends, family and grandparents.
When we look at history the timing of when to start introducing solids has changed many times. In the 1920s the general practice was to start at approximately one year of age. Around the 1930’s they realised one year might be too long to wait and started earlier at approximately six months. Thereafter solids were introduced earlier and earlier with some babies being only a few days or weeks old.
The current recommendation by the World Health Organization and American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) is exclusive breastfeeding for about six months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced. The AAP further recognizes that infants are often developmentally ready to accept complementary foods between four and six months of age. This has led to a more individual-based approach focusing on a specific baby’s signs of developmental readiness to start introducing solids.
When we look at the introduction of solids as a new skill that your baby needs to learn in the context of his or her overall development it makes a lot more sense than just focusing on a specific age as each baby grows and develops at a different rate.
The following baby signs’ may indicate that your baby is ready to start with solids:
- Baby has doubled his/her birth weight.
- Consumes more than eight to ten breastfeeds or more than one litre of formula milk in twenty-four hours but remains hungry.
- Has achieved good head and neck control.
- Can sit without/with minimal support.
- Pushes up on forearms during tummy time (mini push-up).
- Starts playing with hands & other objects in the mouth.
- Shows an interest in food by leaning forward & opening mouth.
Being aware of and following your baby’s signs often places you right in the ideal window of development to start with solids.