Introducing solids to your baby

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The introduction of solids to your baby’s diet is an important step in their growth and development. Solid foods provide the diversity of vitamins and minerals your baby needs to ensure their health and wellbeing. Additionally, a diet of solid foods will help your baby to develop their jaw muscles, which are important for chewing and swallowing safely and assisting in your baby’s development of speech.

When to introduce solids

Feel guided by your baby when you are deciding to introduce solids. Babies can show signs that they are ready to begin eating solids when they can sit upright supported, reach out for some of your food or open their mouths when you offer them a spoon. You can even prepare them for this by using a spoon to feed them milk or formula.

Most babies are ready to try solids when they are around six months old, but they should be on an exclusively milk or formula diet up until four months.

Why introducing solids is important

Babies get most of their iron from stores they have had since birth and from breast milk or formula in the first six months of life. These stores start to diminish from around six months when your baby needs to draw upon iron found in solid foods.

Your baby also develops the beginnings of their lifetime relationship with food from an early age. Solid foods are important to help with teeth and jaw development, learning about taste and texture and even eventually being able to feed themselves.

There may be a link between delaying the introduction of solids beyond six months and the development of allergies. If you have any concerns or suspicions your baby might have an allergy, speak to a medical professional.

Basic foods to consider introducing first

  • Vegetables – potato, pumpkin, carrots, beans, tofu
  • Fruit – apple, banana, watermelon, cantaloupe
  • Meat – tuna, mince, chicken
  • Grains – rice, pasta, bread

How to start

You can try introducing solids to your baby when you are both relaxed and in a familiar setting. After feeding your baby breast milk or formula, you can try offering small amounts of solids to supplement your baby’s feed.

At first try mushy or smooth foods, like pureed apple, banana or cooked vegetables, and as your baby grows and their teeth come out you can introduce minced or soft foods, like cheese, hard-boiled egg or steamed vegetable pieces. By about 12 months, your baby will be able to chew cut up or bite-sized foods with the same texture that you eat.

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