Jess from Pennsylvania, USA, wrote to us yesterday about her daughter, Dylan. She told us
“Dylan is nearly 5 1/2 months old and – until now – exclusively breastfed. I had always planned to wait until the recommended age of 6 months to introduce her to solid foods, but I’m starting to wonder if I should give her something other than breast milk now.
She shows all the signs you mention of being ready for solids – and when we sit down as a family to eat dinner, she watches us like she wants some, too. I feel bad about not feeding her when she seems hungry!
What would you suggest?”
Well, Jess, I think lots of parents will identify with your situation – and it DOES make you feel like the meanest Mum in the world to eat in front of your baby and feel as if you’re denying her something she really wants!
The main reasons that most medical sources suggest waiting until 6 months to start solid foods is that a baby’s digestive system will be more mature at this stage and the risk of food allergies is reduced.
Babies who are given solids before 6 months of age more frequently experience digestive upsets – particularly constipation.
It’s also important to remember the valuable role that milk plays in your baby’s diet at this stage. Replacing too much of the milk with solid foods in the first 6 months of life can deprive your baby of the nutrients she needs for healthy growth and development.
Tips to delay the introduction of solids
If your baby is displaying a great interest in solid foods BEFORE 6 months of age, a good first step is to simply try offering her a soft spoon to hold at the table. This can work surprisingly well, as it may not be the food itself that’s capturing her interest, but rather the over-all ‘mealtime experience’ – including cutlery!
Another option is to try freezing your breast milk into popsicles/lollies – these are known as ‘momsicles’ and can make your baby FEEL as if she’s joining in with the meal – when really she is only having MORE breast milk! If a momsicle is too difficult for her to handle at this stage, try freezing the milk into cubes and putting them into a Teething Feeder.
The tips didn’t work and my baby STILL wants solids!
If this is the case, then our advice – with your doctor’s consent, of course – is to let your baby be your guide and accept that it’s time for ‘big people’ food!
Although 6 months is the recommended age for starting solids, it’s worth bearing in mind that this is a guideline.
Babies, of course, do not undergo a magical transformation at 6 months of age!
It is merely the age at which MOST babies are developmentally ready for real food – for some it may be a few weeks earlier and for others it may be much later.
If you DO offer solids before 6 months of age, make sure that the foods you give your baby are easily digestible and are NOT considered a potential allergen (see our list of foods to avoid). Remember – your baby will be more vulnerable to allergenic foods at this early stage. Introduce each new food separately, at least four days apart.
For more information, please see our page about introducing solids and – if you are looking for an alternative to infant rice cereal as a first food for your baby – read more about offering avocado or sweet potato instead!Pin It