When Should My Baby Eat Solids?

Some babies will be hungrier than others, and some will be keener than others to try whatever is put in front of them.

There are babies who fuss and cry even after their bottle, and continually put their fist in their mouth and they just seem, well, hungry. From about four months of age, you can start introducing little tastes of solid foods, but before that, a baby’s digestive system simply is not well enough developed to cope with breaking them down. The recommended age for beginning solids is around six months but some will be happy with formula for longer, and breastfeeding for up to a year.

If, at family meal time, Mom or Dad has baby on their lap, and he starts to appear interested in what the whole food thing is about, there is no harm in trying a little of what everyone’s having, as long as it is not full of sugar, salt, spices or excessive fat. There are several signs that will indicate that your baby wants in on the dinnertime action.

Does he watch your forkful of food from the plate to your mouth, with great intensity? Does he lean forward to try to grab foods to sample? Does everything nearby end up in his mouth? Does he appear to salivate when watching the family eat? Also, watch for signs that he is not satisfied after a feed.

The best things to try to feed a young baby are vegetables and fruits, which are easy to digest and have pleasant flavors while not containing additives. Mashed potato is an excellent starter, as is mashed banana and cooked apple and pear. Pureed soup, the consistency of thick cream, also usually goes down well.

When first feeding your baby solids, his tongue-thrusting reflex may have him spitting food out as quickly as you can spoon it in. This doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t like the food; it’s just an instinctive reaction. If he screws his nose up, however, that might be a sign that he’s not too thrilled, but again, don’t be perturbed. Tastes are new sensations to little babies. Keep food bland. Babies have a much higher sense of taste than adults so a great deal of flavor is not needed.

Always introduce one kind of food at a time, to gauge for reactions. You might find that a particular food causes tummy ache or a rash, in which case, your child might have an allergy to it. If so, discontinue it and try again in a few weeks time. Otherwise, once you’re confident that a food is ok, you can try something new.

Some foods should be avoided until after a child’s first birthday. They include honey, eggs, nuts, dairy and citrus fruits. Honey contains a bacteria that can be detrimental in a baby’s diet, eggs and nuts can cause allergic reactions, dairy products are not able to be processed by underdeveloped digestive systems and citrus fruits are too acidic to be included in a high milk diet.

Go easy and take things slowly, and remember, babies will not like every food you try on them, so enjoy offering different kinds of foods and have fun.