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Introducing solids: When, what, how?
Introducing solids: When, what, how?

Signs that it’s time for introducing solids

Your baby’s individual development and behaviour will guide you when you’re trying to work out when to start introducing solids.

Signs your baby is ready for solids include when your baby:

  • has good head and neck control and can sit upright when supported
  • shows an interest in food – for example, by looking at what’s on your plate
  • reaches out for your food
  • opens their mouth when you offer them food on a spoon.

Most babies start to show these signs by around six months, but the signs happen at different times for different babies.

It’s not recommended to introduce solids before four months.

Getting the timing right when introducing solids

When you’re first introducing solids, it’s a good idea to offer solids when you and your baby are both happy and relaxed.

Your baby is also more likely to try solids after a feed of breastmilk or formula. This is because when babies are really hungry, they just want the breastmilk or formula that they know satisfies their hunger. They’ll still have space in their tummies for new foods after they’ve had a feed of breastmilk or formula.

As time passes, you’ll learn when your baby is hungry or full, not interested or tired.

Signs of hunger include your baby:

  • getting excited when they see you getting their food ready
  • leaning towards you while they’re sitting in the highchair
  • opening their mouth as you’re about to feed them.

Signs your baby is no longer interested include:

  • turning their head away
  • losing interest or getting distracted
  • pushing the spoon away
  • clamping their mouth shut.

Food texture when introducing solids

When your baby is ready for solids, first foods might be smooth, mashed or in soft pieces, depending on what baby likes. Your baby can quickly go on to minced foods and then chopped foods.

Your baby needs a variety of food textures. This helps your baby learn how to chew, and chewing helps with speech development. It also helps to encourage self-feeding and prevent feeding difficulties as your baby develops.

By the time your baby is 12 months old, they should be eating the same foods that the rest of the family is eating. But you might still need to chop some foods into smaller pieces and cook vegetables until they’re soft.

Breastmilk and infant formula while introducing solids

Keep breastfeeding or using infant formula until at least 12 months, as well as introducing solids.

If you’re not sure whether your baby is getting the right amount of milk once they start solids, baby’s behaviour will tell you.

For example, if your baby has been eating plenty of solids and isn’t finishing or is refusing milk, they might be ready for less frequent but larger milk feeds each day. If your baby isn’t interested in solids, they might be too full from milk feeds. This means it might be time to reduce milk feeds.

By around nine months, babies have generally developed enough chewing and swallowing skills to move from having milk before solids to having milk after solids.

 

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