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When to start solid food

The introduction of solid foods is the moment when parents start to gradually offer other foods besides breast or formula milk to their child.

When can I start solid foods?

The World Health Organization recommends that infants should exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months of life. It is not medically indicated to start solid foods before the age of 4 months. Babies can receive solid food when they are developmentally ready, i.e.:

  • Their intestine has matured in relation to the digestion and the absorption of  nutrients (definitely after the age of 4 months, average 6 months)
  • They have doubled their weight at birth
  • They can hold their head upright and sit well with support
  • They can coordinate chewing and swallowing
  • They can move their tongue back and forth, right and left, and thus accept the food you are giving them with a tea spoon, and don’t violently push it out with their tongue
  • They try and succeed in grabbing various objects
  • They don’t seem completely satisfied just with milk
  • They are stimulated by the smell or the appearance of food on the table
  • For certain babies (neurological problems, intestinal problems, gastroenteritis, allergies) the paediatrician will recommend the introduction of solid foods later.

The right time for the introduction of solid foods should be determined individually with the help of your doctor, who can better evaluate the progress and the needs of your baby. This is statistically done around the age of 6 months of age, with a normal range of 4.5 to 7 months. Introduction of solids does not, and should not, necessarily mean weaning from the breast. This is a gradual process, and it is normal for infants during the first months of tasting solids to breastfeed on demand almost as frequently as when exclusively breastfeeding. Breast milk is the dominant food until the end of the first year of life.

 

Stelios Papaventsis Paediatrician MRCPCH DCH IBCLC 2010

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