WHEN CAN WE START?
Q:MY BABY IS FIVE MONTHS OLD. WHEN SHOULD I START SOLID FOOD? THERE IS CONFLICTING INFORMATION. I’M SO CONFUSED.
A:This is a hotly debated topic and can definitely be confusing for new moms. Even the experts do not give us a clear answer.
Let’s have a look at the science first from various sources: The World Health Organisation recommends that babies can be offered complementary foods (solids) in addition to breastmilk from about 6 months of age. The European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHN) says that “the introduction of complementary foods should not be before 17 weeks, but should not be delayed beyond 26 weeks.” The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy recommends: “Solid foods should not be introduced before 4 months of age.”
Lastly the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommends that solids be started between 4 and 6 months as research shows this may decrease the risk of developing food allergies.
So there is no real definite answer. So when should you start? It is generally recommended that solids can start to be introduced between 4 and 6 months, but this is more dependent on the readiness of your baby. All babies are individual and develop differently – some will be ready for food at 4 months while others will only be ready at 5 or 6 months and will be content with milk feeds until that time.
It is also very important not to start introducing solids too early (before 17 weeks of age) or too late (after 6 months of age). Late introduction of solids can contribute to problems such as growth faltering, micronutrient deficiencies, reduced motor skills development and poor acceptance of new foods. Some important signs to look out for that will give you a clue as to whether your baby is ready to start solids: ✓ Your baby can sit upright with support and hold her head up straight ✓ She can keep her chin off her chest and turn towards food or a toy ✓ She shows an increased interest in your food by watching you take food to your mouth and reaching for your hand while you eat ✓ Seems dissatisfied after milk feeds ✓ She has jaw stability and has lost her tongue thrust reflex (pushing everything that’s put into her mouth back out) ✓ When your baby starts to show the above signs and falls into the age range of 4-6 months, it is time to start some solids.