At around 6 months, your paediatrician will tell you to start thinking about introducing solid foods to your baby. The primary source of nutrition for baby will still be breast milk until baby is a year old but this may be a good time to supplement nursing with soft, mashed foods.
When should I start my baby on solid food? How will I know baby is ready? There are a few signs that tell you baby may be ready to enter the world of solid foods. This usually occurs around the 6-month mark but every baby is different so don’t rush to start solid food if you see that baby isn’t ready yet. Here are some markers.
- Baby displays good neck control and can hold their head up while sitting.
- Baby does not have the tongue-thrust reflex anymore. This reflex helps push solid food out when there is a fear of choking. Put a small amount of food in baby’s mouth and see if baby spits it out. If yes, then the tongue-thrust reflex is still working. Try again a few days later.
- Baby watches eagerly as you eat your meal, showing interest and curiosity about what’s on your plate.
- Baby opens mouth when you bring a spoon close to it.
What should baby eat at this stage?
Your paediatrician will recommend a grain for baby based on their development but oatmeal or rice is always a great place to start.
Cereals are important because they provide the necessary nutrients needed for a growing baby. Make the porridge a very thin consistency by adding breast milk or water and offer it to baby. If your baby is able to take it, then gradually work your way up to a thicker consistency. Baby will only have a few tablespoons at this stage—so do not force them to eat more.
You could also offer purees at this stage. Your paediatrician will recommend the fruits and vegetables you can try which traditionally include carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, and bananas. Some doctors will even recommend trying all vegetables before fruits so baby will get a taste of veggies before the sweetness of fruits. For purees, steam the vegetable and then puree it. You can thin it out with a little water or breast milk before feeding your baby.
Some Dos & Don'ts
Do not give baby cow’s milk yet. You need to wait until baby is a year old before trying cow’s milk.
At this stage offer only runny, pureed foods to baby. Do not give carrot pieces or grapes as they are a choking hazard.
Avoid added sugar until baby is a year old. The natural sweetness in vegetables and fruits is more than enough.
Do not add salt to baby’s food. Babies require less than 1 gram of salt a day which is met through breast milk or formula. Any excess salt may tax their kidneys.
Always remember to try the same food for three days before moving on to the next one.
This is important to do to find if your baby has an allergic reaction to any food. Signs of an allergic reaction include vomiting, rashes, or even diarrhoea.