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Introducing solids

Introducing solids

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Introducing solid foods into your baby’s diet is an exciting milestone, but can be daunting! With all the information available online, it's hard to know where to start.

Here are some of the basics you need to know when introducing solids to your baby.

Why do you need to introduce solids to you baby?

From 6 months of age, solid foods will provide additional nutrients needed for rapid growth and development. Particularly iron! As baby will not be able to receive adequate iron from breastmilk or formula.

When should you introduce solids to babies?

It is recommended to start introducing solids:

  • At/around 6 months of age, but not before 4 months (usually between 5-7 months)
  • Shows interest in food/reaches for what you are eating
  • Baby can sit and support their own head
  • No longer pushes food out with their tongue

What are the best foods?

It's best to start by introducing soft and simple, pureed foods.

Try in include iron rich foods such as fortified rice cereal, hard boiled mashed eggs, minced meat, tofu, fish, fruit and dairy. As your baby gets older and more mature, you can begin introducing varied textures and lightly mashed foods instead of pureed.

Soft finger foods like pasta, cooked vegetables, banana, avocado and cheese can be introduced from approximately 8 months of age.

How much solid food can a baby have?

From 6-8 months of age, you can offer 1-2 teaspoons of solid food 2-3 times a day, gradually increasing to half a cup of food at each sitting or as your baby can tolerate. Watch for your baby’s cues they have had enough (turning away, pushing food away, closing their lips etc.)

What foods should you avoid when starting solids?

Current research recommends introducing as many food groups as possible from 6 months of age. The only foods to avoid are:

  • Raw honey
  • Raw meat or eggs
  • Whole nuts or hard foods until 3+ yrs (choking hazard)
  • Unpasteurised milk

How to introduce allergenic foods:

Introducing allergenic foods can reduce the risk of your baby developing a food allergy later in life.

If you have a recurring family history of allergy you may wish to introduce new food groups slowly to ensure you can pinpoint any reactions and respond accordingly.

Written by Keryn Thompson, RM & IBCLC (L-301766)

References:

Bacchus, S., Taylor, R., Fleming, E., Williams, S., Wheeler, B., Taylor, B. and Heath, A., 2020. Acceptability to parents of a baby-led approach to introducing solids. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 79(OCE2).

Brodribb, W. and Miller, Y., 2013. Introducing Solids and Water to Australian Infants. Journal of Human Lactation, 29(2), pp.214-221.

Brown, A. and Rowan, H., 2015. Maternal and infant factors associated with reasons for introducing solid foods. Maternal & Child Nutrition, 12(3), pp.500-515.

Choudhury, S., Headey, D. and Masters, W., 2018. First Foods: Diet Quality Among Infants Aged 6–23 Months in 42 Countries. SSRN Electronic Journal,.

Cichero, J., 2016. Introducing solid foods using baby-led weaning vs. spoon-feeding: A focus on oral development, nutrient intake and quality of research to bring balance to the debate. Nutrition Bulletin, 41(1), pp.72-77.

Harrison, M., Brodribb, W. and Hepworth, J., 2016. A qualitative systematic review of maternal infant feeding practices in transitioning from milk feeds to family foods. Maternal & Child Nutrition, 13(2), p.e12360.

Morin, K., 2004. Solids—When and Why. MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 29(4), p.259.

New England Journal of Medicine, 2016. Introducing Allergenic Foods in Infants. 375(8), p.e16.

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