Introducing solids to your baby is such an exciting time where they get to try new foods and tastes. There are some important guidelines to follow to support the health of your baby which I have shared in this article, as well as my top tips.
The World Health Organization (WHO), the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Australian Breastfeeding Association all currently recommend 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding and then the introduction of solids while breastfeeding continues.
Ensure your baby is ready
For the first six months of age breastmilk or infant formula provides all of the nutrition that a baby needs. From around six months of age, it is recommended to begin introducing solid foods as these provide important nutrients for your baby including iron and zinc.
I recommend ‘around six months of age’ as each baby is different and will be ready for solids at different times. It is important to avoid solids before four months of age. If your baby is not interested in solids by seven months of age please chat to your GP for further advice.
It’s not just about their age either. Your baby should be meeting these important developmental milestones before commencing solids:
- able to sit up on their own
- good head and neck control
- loss of tongue thrust reflex
- interested in food.
If you have a family history of food allergies or your baby has been diagnosed with an allergy I recommend speaking with your GP before commencing solids.
Continue breastfeeding as well as starting solids
Breastfeeding still has many benefits for babies, even when solids are introduced. Research suggests that continuing to breastfeed as new foods are introduces may reduce the risk of baby developing allergies.
To begin I suggest offering a breastfeed or formula feed first, and then 1-2 teaspoons of solids. Gradually increase the amount of solids your baby is eating as they are ready. By 12 months of age most children are having three meals per day. Breastmilk is still a beneficial source of nutrition no matter how old your baby is.
Offer a variety of different foods
The good news is there isn’t a specific order that you need to introduce solid foods in. I recommend offering iron-rich smooth or pureed foods first – such as cooked vegetables, cooked fruit or mashed soft fruit (bananas, avocado etc) pureed meat, fish (no bones) or well-cooked egg. By 12 months of age your baby should be eating similar foods to the rest of the family – you might just still need to cut food into small pieces and cook vegetables/fruit until they’re soft.
It is now recommended to offer allergenic foods (cows’ milk, nuts, wheat, soy, egg and fish) by 10-12 months of age as this has been associated with a reduced risk of developing allergies to these foods.
There are also some foods to avoid which I have outlined below:
- Honey until 12 months of age
- Raw or runny eggs until 12 months of age
- Reduced fat dairy until 2 years of age
- Whole nuts and hard foods until three years of age as these are a choking risk
- Pasteurised full-fat cow’s milk as a main drink should be avoided until 12 months of age.
For further information please chat with your GP, Child Health Nurse or visit the following websites:
Article written by the PBC Expo Midwife Hannah