Knowing when to switch to solids

Published by Baby Bunting on Monday, January 28, 2019

Switching your baby to solids – also known as weaning – is a huge step in their early life. It is from this point that your baby will start interacting ever more increasingly with their environment, develop their language, engage, rate and value different experiences. It can truly be an exciting (albeit messy) time for your baby.

When do I start my baby on solids?

Every baby develops at a different rate, so you will need to know what signs to look out for rather than a calendar date. Some signs are unobservable – such as the development of beneficial bacteria in the intestine that assist digestion – but occur in tandem with other observable indicators. The general timeframe for beginning weaning, however, is between 4 to 6 months.

How will I know when my baby is ready for solids?

A range of indicators besides age can help you make the decision to start weaning your baby off breast milk and onto solids.

Birth weight

A good indicator that your baby is ready to advance to solids is that they have doubled their birth weight.

Loss of the tongue-thrust reflex

Babies have a tongue-thrust reflex, also known as extrusion, that prevents them from choking. You will notice this as they push food out of their mouths and frequently drool.

Head, neck and core strength

Babies that are ready to eat solids can sit up largely unassisted and hold their heads up when they do so.

Swallowing strength

This is one that is better tested using diluted solids, but babies must develop the strength in their tongues to push food to the backs of their mouths.

Curiosity

Babies might become naturally curious about what you yourself are eating, or, with their increased hand and arm strength, might start putting things in their mouths (although this can also be a sign of teething).

Increased appetite

You will know better than anyone your baby's usual feeding pattern. You might start to notice that they want to be fed more often or are seemingly less satisfied after each feed.

When do I stop breast feeding?

Breast milk is nature's most complete food for humans and has all the nutrients necessary for a newborn or very young baby. But babies develop teeth to engage with a whole new range of foods full of various nutrients and nutrient levels required for different stages of growth and development.

The decision to stop breast feeding entirely, however, is a decision to make between you, your baby and your body. Most women stop when their baby is around 12 months old, slowly transitioning during their baby's second 6 months to shift to 100% solids.

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