Most solid foods are lower in calories than human milk, of lower nutritional value, and can be difficult for young babies to digest. Introduced early, they can cause unpleasant reactions and even trigger allergies. These problems can be avoided by waiting until your baby is ready for solids. Some parents have found introducing solids before baby is ready to be a waste of time, energy and money.
Breastfed babies do not need to have complementary food introduced until about the middle of the first year. Before that time, you will notice some signs that your baby is changing developmentally, in preparation for beginning solids in a few months. You will notice that:
- he becomes more sociable, playing and holding "conversations" with you during a nursing session
- he has a growth spurt and nurses more frequently for a while
- he imitates the chewing motions you make whilst eating -- he is practicing!
- he is about six months old
- he can sit up without any support
- he continues to be hungry despite more frequent nursing which is unrelated to illness or teething
- he has lost the tongue-thrusting reflex and does not push solids out of his mouth
- he can pick up things with his finger and thumb (pincer grasp)
Listen to your baby! Babies with a tendency to allergies may refuse solids until later in their first year. As long as they are growing well and are happy and healthy, there is no need for concern.
For this and more information on starting solids visit the LLLI website's resource on starting solids.