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Is my baby ready for solids: What does the evidence say?

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

It is one of those milestones where everyone has an unsolicited opinion on when your baby should start solids;

- baby crying at night at 4 months "maybe they are hungry you should start solids"

- ohh they are sucking on their hand "maybe you should start solids"

- but "my doctor said you could start solids at 4 months"

One thing that all organisations agree on is that breastmilk or formula will meet all of your babies nutrition requirements until 6 months of age. At 6 months of age the nutrition requirements of some nutrients increases above what can be provided by breast milk alone especially iron and zinc.

So what are the current recommendations for starting solids:

- The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) infant feeding guide recommends that solids start around 6 months of age

- The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends starting solids from 6 months of age.

- ASCIA (Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy) recommends at around 6 months and not before 4 months you can start to introduce a variety of solid foods. (It is not recommended to start solids before 4 months of age, this includes putting anything in a bottle other than formula, because the gut has not matured enough)

Overall what we do know is that age guidelines are a guide and that babies can develop at different rates, so developmental readiness and a guide of around 6 months should be the biggest deciding factor in on when to start solids with your baby.

5 Signs to look out for and ensure your child is showing:

- Head Control: Can your baby hold her head in an upright position for an extended period of time. Your baby needs to maintain a steady upright position to eat.

- Able to sit with minimal support: Can your baby sit with some or minimal support in an upright position or on your lap. Your child needs to maintain truck control whilst sitting in a high chair to be able to eat.

- Showing interest in food: is your baby interested in food, watching what you eat, grabbing food off your plate

- Opens mouth when offered spoon or picks up and puts food in mouth if following a baby-led weaning approach

- Reduced or minimal tongue thrust reflex: They should be able to keep some food in their mouth (without pushing it all out) and move it to the back with their tongue so they can swallow.

Ideally your child needs to be able to do ALL of the above 5 things before you start solids.

And don't worry if you think they are ready and you try but they are just not into it; stop and wait 1 week and then try again.

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