Introducing solids - When is the right time to start solids?

Until they’re around six months old, your baby will get all the nutrients they need from breast milk or infant formula. By this stage, your baby's digestive system will also have developed to a point where it can handle other food, namely solids! 

The only real rule of thumb is to not start earlier than four months (your baby's digestive system can't handle solid food before then) or leave much later than six months (your baby could start missing out on nutrients after this time). If your baby does show these signs under four months, chat with your child health nurse or doctor as your baby may be needing a bit more milk.

But how on earth are you meant to know when is the right time to introduce your baby to solids? 

 

Wouldn't it be wonderful if babies came with a translator which told us exactly what they are trying to say with every grunt, squeal or howl? The good news is babies do send us fairly consistent signs when they are ready for solids.

 

Around 6 months of age your baby will be ready to start solids. Here are some handy hints to help you identify the developmental cues and the right time to introduce food to your baby:

“What's cooking, good looking?” All of a sudden your delicious dinner is fair game with your baby showing an interest in what you eat, either just by staring at you eating or by leaning forward to try to touch what is on your plate.  It might even be worthwhile deliberately starting to eat in front of bub to see if he or she does show an interest.

“And where's the rest?”   After your baby’s normal milk feed, you might notice your little one is still hungry, whether it be searching for more milk or crying when the feed ends.  Another sign could be that bub is demanding feeds more frequently.  Don't worry though, your baby won't be starving but it is just a sign that the time might be right to introduce solids. 

Midnight feast: Your once sleeping beauty starts to wake during the night, appearing hungry, and can only be re-settled with a milk feed. 

Say 'aahhh': Your baby develops a fondness for putting anything and everything into their mouth – hands, toys, the works.  You could even wave a soft spoon around their lips and see if they open their mouth in anticipation.

Bigger and stronger: Your baby can easily hold their head up and they are roughly double their birth weight. 

Do remember that every baby is completely different so the right time to move on to solids will vary.  There's no need to rush it – you might look longingly back at the days of mess free milk feeds!