Signs Your Baby is Ready to Start Solid Food

Whether you breastfeed, bottle feed or a combination of them both, eventually your baby will need to start eating solid foods. It’s an exciting transition. But can also be stressful and leave you feeling unsure of the when and how to start. Recommendations seem to always change and old school advice from well-meaning loved ones can add to the uncertainty. Here are some current guidelines as well as some practical tips to help with this new stage.

The World Health Organization, as well as the Canadia Paediatric Society both, recommend breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of your baby’s life. Of course, that doesn’t always work out as planned and so a commercially prepared formula is a safe and sufficient alternative. The rationale behind the six-month recommendation has to do with the maturity of your baby’s digestive tract. If you start solid foods before your baby is ready it may lead to digestive tract upset (gas, constipation) and your baby may not be able to absorb the nutrients from the food well. Your baby may also be more susceptible to illnesses if solid food is started too soon.

There are also several developmental signs that your baby is ready to start solid foods. These include:

  • Baby can sit up on their own
  • Baby is ready to chew
  • Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and will not automatically push food out of their mouth
  • Baby can pick up items using their thumb and pointer finger (pincer-grasp reflex)
  • Baby is interested in mealtimes and may try to grab food off your plate

Some babies may reach this stage before or after the six-month mark. So what do you do? The recommendation is still to wait until six months due to the development of the digestive tract. So if your five-month-old is really interested in mealtimes there are several things you can do to keep them involved and interested. These can include letting them sit at the table with you, giving them a sippy cup of water and giving them baby spoons, forks and plates to play with at the table. Alternatively, if your seven-month-old is still not showing any interest in solid foods, not to worry. As long as your baby is continuing to grow and develop, breastmilk or formula do continue to meet the dietary needs of babies until about a year old.

No matter when you do start giving your baby solid foods start small and work your way up. Start with easy, bland food (bananas, avocado) and slowly increase the texture and variety of foods you offer. Ideally iron-rich and nutrient-dense foods will make up a large portion of the foods you offer. Some babies really like pureed food and others just liked diced up soft food (whatever you are having). It takes some time and some trial and error but ultimately you want mealtimes to be an enjoyable time for everyone. Breast or bottle feeding should also continue to be a major source of nutrition for your baby.

Of course, if you are ever concerned about your baby’s development to consult your healthcare provider or reach out to any Mama Coach. We can help you!

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