To read the previous part of this article, go to Baby Diets: When to Introduce Solid Foods.

It’s hard to know when to feed the baby. The following article will provide you with some advice.

Before four months, your baby isn’t physiologically ready to eat solid foods. They would likely pick them up and swallow them. But their gastrointestinal system isn’t ready to effectively handle and absorb solids as it can for milk. The digestive enzymes aren’t functional and their immature intestine can’t absorb the nutrients. Health directives state that babies should start solid foods around six months as a complement to breastfeeding. However, for some babies, you can start solid foods after four months, depending on their signs that they’re ready. That said, the majority of babies born at term and in good health can start solid foods between four and six months, but at six months THEY HAVE TO START.

In the normal development of a baby’s diet, everything starts between four and 10 months. This includes variety, taste development but also getting used to different textures. At around six to seven months, they should eat from all food groups. At nine months the textures should be granular, and at one year, small pieces of food are an important prerequisite for the baby’s development. Over time the baby will learn to pinch their food with their fingers, pick it up and take it to their mouth.

For premature babies, use the corrected age for the introduction of solid foods unless your doctor suggests otherwise for some situations (corrected six months).

If you wait too long before introducing solid foods, this can cause food behaviour issues (food rigidity) such as:

  • Hypersensitivity to food textures (automatic gag reflex);
  • Little variety;
  • Nibbling.

In contrast, starting a baby too early (before four months) can lead to:

  • Higher obesity;
  • Asthma problems;
  • Food allergies.

Between four and six months, your baby will show development signs that they’re ready to eat solid foods. Recognise their signs. Here are a few examples:

  • They can control their head;
  • The sit properly without help in their baby seat;
  • They can lean forward and rise back up;
  • They can bring objects to their mouth, and they no longer reject or push things that touch their tongue (extrusion reflex);
  • Their neck is strong and turns their head they’re no longer hungry;
  • They frequently wake up at night when before they would sleep. Periods of sleep shorten, and they drink a lot (they don’t “goof around” during nightly feeding, drink a lot and continue to drink during the day despite what they drank at night).

Until your baby can crawl and move around, the foods you give them should remain puréed or crushed without lumps to avoid choking. Once they can do this, you can add small pieces under supervision.

To learn about foods to start with, go to Foods to Start With in your Baby’s Diet.