Introducing your baby to solids is a very exciting time for both you and your baby.
There are new experiences and tastes, not to mention lots of mess! It can seem like everyone you talk to has a different opinion on when and how to start.
What do the experts say?
Experts agree that solids shouldn’t be given before your baby is 4 months old.
Before then, their digestive systems are not mature enough, and introducing solids before then can increase the risk of allergies.
Breast milk doesn’t contain much iron, so baby has to start eating food when the iron stored in their body runs out; usually at around 6 months. Because of this, it’s important to start iron-rich foods by six months.
What about Baby-Led Weaning?
‘Baby-led weaning’ is where you start feeding your baby with finger food, once they are ready, and this may take up to 10 months. However, if your baby is not ready for finger food at six months, baby-led weaning can put them in danger of iron deficiency, which is vital for brain development.
(Babies are ready for finger food when they hold their head up unsupported, sit well when supported, puts things in their mouth, reaches and grabs, watches you eat, makes chewing motions.)
HOWEVER, if at six months your baby is not ready for finger food, they still need to eat iron-rich foods, and you’ll need to give puree foods until they’re ready to chew.
As soon as your baby shows they are ready for finger-foods, go for it! Just be sure that they include iron-rich foods. There are good examples of iron rich first foods just below:
Ideas for iron rich first foods:
- Iron-fortified rice puree
- Meat/chicken/fish puree
- Pureed egg
- Lentil/legumes/tofu puree
- Sticks of meat – cut against the grain
- Lentil patties in finger food shape
- Tofu strips
- Hard-boiled egg chunks or strips of omelette
Hopefully this has clarified things, with solids there are really only a couple of rules. Start with iron-rich food between 4 and 6 months, and start finger food as soon as you and your baby are ready.