Introducing solid food at the right time is important for your baby's health

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No rush to mush - the three signs that show your baby is ready for solid food

Research shows that starting solid food at the right time is important for your baby’s health. This is usually around six months. Just because your baby looks interested in food, is feeding more frequently or is waking in the night, doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready for solids.

What to look out for

Your baby is ready if they can:

  • Stay in a sitting position and are able to hold their head steady
  • Co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth, can look at food, grab it, and put it in their mouths all by themselves
  • Swallow their food. Babies who are not ready will often push their food back out, so get more around their faces than they do in their mouths.

These signs tend to appear together at around six months, rarely much earlier. The important thing to remember is that if your baby is ready for solid food all three signs will be there.

Research now shows that feeding your baby solid food before they are ready (they are ready at around six months) could lead to your baby getting an upset tummy.

This is because babies are developing on the inside as well as the outside, and although we can’t see it, it takes about six months for a baby’s digestive system to work properly, and be able to cope well with solid food. Plus, if you feed them breast milk up to and beyond six months it gives them even more protection against infections.

You might find that some baby foods have ‘from four months’ on the label - but this information is based on outdated research.

Top tips

  • Don’t worry if your baby begins waking in the night when they have previously slept through. They might be hungry (although it could be for other reasons like teething), but extra milk is all they need until they are ready for solids.
  • Don’t worry about having enough milk if you are breastfeeding. Just feed your baby when they are hungry and your body will make more milk to keep up.
  • If you wait until your baby is ready they will very quickly be able to feed themselves which means you won’t have to spend as much time spoon feeding them and there will be less mess too!
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