Your little one has come a long way since birth, with the many exciting developmental milestones in the first year, your baby’s first solid food may come across as the one that you most look forward to — but how do you know if your baby is truly ready for solids? We have put together a few general guidelines for you to get a better idea!
Why does the right time matter?
In general, most babies are ready for solid foods between 4 months to 6 months. That said, every baby is unique and grows at their own pace, so your baby’s individual development is definitely the most important factor you should consider when deciding whether or not to introduce solids in their diet. Most importantly, be sure to get your paediatrician involved in the process.
So why does introducing solids to your little one at the right time so important? Well, this is because giving solids to your baby too early or too late might have its consequences.
First of all, if you introduce solid foods too early to your baby, his digestive system might not be developed enough to handle food other than breast milk. Also, feeding your baby solids when he is not ready for it may lead him to reject them later due to parental pushing in the earlier stage.
On the contrary, if your baby starts having solids too late — for instance, somewhere near his first birthday — he might resist solids more and face delay in mastering some of the key developmental skills too. This includes chewing and swallowing solids and accepting foods with different texture and flavours. Not to mention self-feeding also offers your little one a whole new set of hand-eye coordination skills too.
What are signs your baby is ready for solid food?
To tell whether your baby is ready to have solid food in his diet, there are a few signs you can look for and consult your paediatrician about it.
Meanwhile, it is also important for you to note that having your baby to display only one of these signs doesn’t mean he is ready for solid food. Your baby’s readiness for solid food is determined by a collective of signs — and of course, the green light from your doctor.
- Your baby is able to sit up straight on his own and hold his head up steadily
Before your baby is able to do this, you should only feed him breast milk. To prevent the risk of choking, you shouldn’t even offer strained baby food until then.
- Your baby shows an interest in food or reaches for your food
During meal time, if you notice your little one has been watching you eat, trying to reach for your food, or even opening his mouth when you place the food near him, it could mean that your baby is ready for solid food.
- Your baby’s tongue reflex has disappeared
What does tongue reflex mean and how do you know if your baby still has it? Here’s how you can find out: Mix a minimal amount of baby-safe food with breast milk until it is thinned out. Then, place a tiny bit of the liquid in your baby’s mouth using your finger or the tip of a baby spoon.
Try this several times, and if the food comes right back out again from your baby’s tongue, it means that your baby still has the tongue reflex and he isn’t ready for spoon-feeding and solid food yet. When your baby is ready for solid food, he should be able to move this tongue back and forth and up and down.
- Your baby’s mouth is able to open wide
Yes, this might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s also important for your baby’s tiny mouth to be able to open wide enough to fit the tip of a baby spoon so that you are able to spoon-feed him properly.
Baby Solid Myths & Facts
We are sure by now you already have a clearer idea on how to tell if your baby is ready for solids. In short, it’s determined by a collective a developmental milestones and the green light from your paediatrician — but just in case you need more reassurance, keep an eye on these myths that might tell you otherwise:
Myth 1: Your baby has reached a certain weight, so he is ready for solid food
Fact: Your baby’s readiness for solid food is not determined by his weight. Instead, it is determined by his developmental readiness as mentioned in the earlier part of this guide as well as the maturity of the digestive tract, which generally happens around the 4 to 6 months. So, just because your baby has achieved a certain weight doesn’t mean that he is ready for solids.
Myth 2: Your baby is bigger/smaller than his peers, so he needs to start solids
Fact: Some mothers might be told that since their babies are bigger in size, they won’t be able to produce enough breast milk to satisfy their babies, hence, they need to give solids to their baby earlier. On the contrary, some might say since the baby is smaller in size, the baby might need more nutrients than just breast milk. These are simply not true.
Your breast milk contains all essential nutrients that your baby needs to grow. As long as your baby is growing healthily and achieving all the developmental milestones as advised by your paediatrician, you do not have to worry about your baby not getting enough nutrients from your breast milk.
Myth 3: If you offer fruits before vegetables as your baby’s first foods, your baby will have a permanent sweeth tooth
Fruits and vegetables purees are both great options as your baby’s first solids as they support your baby’s development with essential vitamins and minerals. So instead of focusing on which type of fruits and vegetables to feed your baby, it’s more important for you to continuously offer him a well-balanced and wide variety of nutritious foods that help boost his development in the first few years.
All in all, feeding your baby solid foods is a remarkable milestone that you can look forward to. With enough patience and love — which we are pretty sure you have — your baby will be ready to enjoy their daily meals on their own in no time!
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Interested to learn more? Call us at +65 6293 9249, we are ready to help anytime between 10am and 7pm daily!