There are many myths around the signs a baby is ready for solid foods, you may have heard a few.
Baby is watching me eat
Babies learn by watching and doing. It is natural for them to look at you and be interested in what you are doing. This in itself is not a sign that they are ready.
Baby is waking in the night
If only solids would solve this! Unfortunately we parents may never know why our babies wake in the night. It could be hunger, wind, requiring a nappy change, they are too hot, too cold… This in itself is not a sign that they are ready. And, don’t expect your baby to sleep through after you start solids, baby may well be more unsettled as their tummies get used to processing new foods.
My baby is no longer satisfied at the end of a feed
It may be that baby needs more milk but this in itself is not a sign that they are ready. Baby food is not as high in calories as you might think so they actually need to have quite a bit to get the number of calories they get from milk. When you first start weaning, baby will take only very small amounts of food, milk will still be an essential source of nutrition.
My baby isn’t putting on as much weight as they did before
If you look at the growth charts in baby’s red book you will see that the curve is not as steep at 5 or 6 months as it was at 3 months (just as well, your baby would be huge by the time they got to a year!). The growth slows and baby develops in other ways. This is natural and not a sign they are ready for solids on its own.
Baby is big
This in itself is not a sign that they are ready, you need to look for the developmental signs as big babies can get all they need from milk in the first 6 months of life.
The baby foods in the baby food aisle say ‘from 4 months’
This just means they are not safe before 4 months. It doesn’t mean you have to start solids at 4 months.
So what are the signs! When baby has all three of these, they are ready for solids:
- Baby can hold their head up unaided. They can sit up with a little support but not require too much support.
- Baby can pick something up and put it in their mouth.
- Baby can swallow food when it goes in their mouth – you will have to try them with some food to check but if they just push it out with their tongue and don’t swallow it, they are not ready.
These developmental signs usually occur around 6 months in babies born after 37 weeks gestation. This coincides with enough maturity of the gut, kidneys and immune system to cope with solids.
Remember, it is not safe to start your baby on solids before they are 17 weeks (4 months), the NHS recommendation is about 6 months.
To book onto a course which will guide you through all you need to know about starting baby on solids click here