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Starting solids – is your baby ready for solid food?

When is a baby ready to start solid foodHow do you tell if your baby is ready to start on solid food?

It can be hard to know, especially if it’s your first baby. That’s while we have compiled this list of signs to look for to see if your baby is ready for solid food.

Introducing your baby to their first tastes of solid food is about getting them used to new tastes and to teach them how to move solid food around their mouth. Many parents hope that starting solids will magically help sleep or fussing issues go away – but this is not necessarily the case. It takes practice, just like learning every other new skill like sitting up, crawling, or walking.

It is important to remember that the introduction of solid food is not meant to replace breast milk or formula. Your baby still needs breast milk and/or infant formula along with solids until at least 12 months.

The current recommendation is that babies start solid food when they are about six months old.

How do I know if my baby is ready for solids?

There are a number of signs that your baby will give you when they are ready to start eating solids.

Signs to look out for:

  • Baby has good head and neck control and can sit upright with minimal support – if their head and neck is still a bit wobbly, this may make swallowing difficult.
  • Baby shows an interest in food and watches you eat. They may ‘chew’ while they watch you, try to get your attention by making noises (‘talking’ to you) or even grab food from your plate and eat it!
  • Milk feeds alone are no longer satisfying.
  • Baby opens their mouth when you offer food on a spoon.
  • Baby no longer has the ‘extrusion reflex’. This reflex causes babies to put their tongue forward and upwards when feeding, as if sucking, and prevents baby from taking food from a spoon.

These signs happen at different times for different babies, but most babies show signs when they’re about six months old.

What is the extrusion reflex?

The extrusion reflex – baby’s tongue tends to push food out, rather than accept it into their mouth. This usually disappears around six months. If baby is showing this reflex, they are not ready for solids.

If baby’s mouth opens as food approaches and closes around the spoon, they are ready for solids. Their tongue will no longer push food out when offered, and the tongue moves food to the back of their mouth for them to swallow.

Once you can recognise these signs, you should be able to determine whether your baby is ready for solids or not. The next step is to choose the best first food for your baby.

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to talk to your local doctor or child health nurse.

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