What do the experts say?
Health specialists and breastfeeding professionals concur that it’s best to wait till your baby is around 6 months old prior to using solid foods.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, and lots of other health organizations recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed (no cereal, juice or other foods) for the first 6 months of life. I’m not entering into the many health advantages of postponing solids here; see When Should Baby Start Solids? to learn more.
Developmental signs that baby is all set for solids
Solids preparedness depends upon both the maturity of baby’s digestion tract and baby’s developmental preparedness for solids. Although the maturity of baby’s gastrointestinal system is not something that we can easily observe, research suggests that 6 months seems perfect for avoiding increased illness and other health threats of too-early solids. After this point, various babies are ready for solids at different times– developmental readiness for solids can not be figured out utilizing a calendar. Most babies are developmentally all set for solids somewhere between 6 and 8 months.
Waiting until 6 months to provide your baby her first foods secures her health. It minimizes the opportunity that she will establish allergies or get an infection from food, due to the fact that at 6 months her immune system and gastrointestinal system are stronger.
Signs that indicate baby is developmentally all set for solids include:
- Baby can sit up well without assistance.
- Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and does not instantly push solids from his mouth with his tongue.
- Baby is prepared and happy to chew.
- Baby is establishing a “pincer” grasp, where he picks up food or other objects in between thumb and forefinger.
- Utilizing the fingers and scraping the food into the palm of the hand (palmar grasp) does not alternative to pincer grasp development.
- Baby is eager to take part in mealtime and may attempt to grab food and put it in his mouth.
We typically mention that a sign of solids preparedness is when baby shows a long-lasting increased need to breastfeed (sometime around 6 months or later on) that is unrelated to health problem, teething pain, a change in routine or a development spurt. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to evaluate whether baby’s increased breastfeeding is associated with preparedness for solids. Numerous 6-month-old babies are teething, growth spurting, beginning to experience separation stress and anxiety, and experiencing many other developmental changes that can result in increased breastfeeding– in some cases all at once! Ensure you take a look at all the signs of solids preparedness as a whole, since increased breastfeeding alone is not likely to be an accurate guide to baby’s readiness.
More on developmental readiness
In April 2001, a literature review “of the developmental readiness of typical complete term babies to advance from special breastfeeding to the introduction of complementary foods” was jointly published by Wellstart International and the LINKAGES Job. Per the authors, “The review does not concentrate on health results associated with discontinuing exclusive breastfeeding at a particular age however rather on the biologic/developmental preparedness for this complex experience. 4 processes or functions were picked for inclusion: intestinal, immunologic, oral motor and the maternal reproductive processes that connect to the extension of lactation and the arrangement of breastmilk.”
Following are a few of the conclusions of this evaluation:
- Hence, special breastfeeding to about 6 months allows the infant to have greater immunologic protection and limit the exposure to pathogens at a susceptible age. This in turn allows the energy and nutrients that may otherwise be diverted to attend to immunologic actions to be readily available and made use of for other development and developmental procedures.”
- ” These medical reports indicate that the majority of typical full term babies are not developmentally ready for the transition from suckling to drawing or for managing semi-solids and solid foods in addition to liquids up until in between 6 and 8 months of age.”
- ” Utilizing this readily available info on the development of oral motor function, maternal reproductive physiology and development of the baby’s immunologic and gastrointestinal function, the professional evaluation team concluded that the probable age of preparedness for most complete term babies to stop unique breastfeeding and begin complementary foods appears to be near six months or maybe a little beyond. The likewise felt that there is probable convergence of such readiness throughout the numerous relevant procedures.”
- ” The consensus opinion of the professional review group was that provided the offered information and the lack of proof of substantial harm to either normal moms or regular infants, there is no need to conclude that unique breastfeeding should not continue to 6 months.”
What about starting solids AFTER 6 months? At what point does baby need nutrition from solids that can not be supplied by breastmilk alone?
Medical research informs us that special breastfeeding allows babies to thrive for the first 6 months. In the words of the World Health Company,
” Breastfeeding is an unequalled method of supplying perfect food for the healthy development and development of babies … A recent review of evidence has actually shown that, on a population basis, special breastfeeding for 6 months is the ideal way of feeding babies.”
However what if baby is not very thinking about solids at 6 months? Babies who are not yet interested in solid foods can and do thrive on breastmilk alone till 9-12 months or later on. You might hear people state, “Food prior to one is simply for enjoyable,” but perhaps this must be altered to “Food before one is primarily for fun.” As long as your baby is continuing to grow and develop as he should, your milk is satisfying his needs well. At some point after six months, nevertheless, babies will gradually begin to need more iron and zinc than that supplied by breastmilk alone– at that point, extra nutrients can be obtained from small amounts of solids. If your baby decides to continue special breastfeeding, just keep an eye on growth and iron status, continue to enjoy your baby for signs that he is all set for solids, and deal suitable solids for him to try– baby can choose whether to eat them. Anytime baby begins solid foods, breastmilk must comprise most of baby’s nutrition through completion of the first year.
What if my 4-5 month old seems developmentally prepared for solids?
4- to five-month-old babies are in some cases really excited to get involved at mealtime, however it does not necessarily indicate that they are ready to eat solids– regularly it’s just the typical developmental urge to do what everybody else is doing. Research research studies inform us that there are numerous health advantages to postponing solids for about 6 months for all babies, not simply the babies who are not yet interested in mealtime.
There are a number of things you can do to let baby participate in mealtimes without starting solids:
- Let baby sit with the household at mealtime– in a lap, booster seat or high chair.
- Give baby a cup of water or expressed milk. Your baby can captivate himself at mealtime while discovering how to use a cup. 1-3 ounces of water in the cup ought to be plenty (often for the whole day). Many mamas decide to use only water or a small amount of breastmilk to avoid wasting the “liquid gold” while baby learns to use the cup.
- Offer baby sips of water from your cup or straw. Even if baby hasn’t determined how to use a straw yet, you can put your straw in water, block the leading end of the straw with your finger to trap a little water in the straw, then let baby drink the water from the lower end of the straw (unblock the top end once it’s in baby’s mouth).
- Deal baby spoons, cups, bowls and other baby-safe consuming utensils to play with during mealtime.
- Offer baby an ice (if it’s a baby-safe size & shape) or ice chips to have fun with.
- Offer baby a momsicle (popsicle made from breastmilk) or slushy frozen breastmilk to eat with a spoon.
Myths about solids preparedness
There are many myths and out-of-date information concerning how to tell if baby is prepared for solids.
MYTH: Baby’s weight has actually reached a “magic” number
Even if your baby attains “x” number of pounds, or has actually doubled birth weight, (or however much your baby weighs) does not indicate that she is instantly ready for solids– especially if she is under 6 months.
The American Academy of Pediatrics/World Health Organization recommendations for beginning solids at 6 months or later on has no exceptions for babies who weigh more. The research that I’ve seen on the health benefits of starting solids at 6 months and later holds for all babies, no matter what their weight.
It’s the maturity of the digestive tract and baby’s developmental readiness that makes the distinction, not baby’s weight.
It’s rather intriguing to note that mommies are informed to begin solids for both huge and small babies. It’s not even uncommon to hear opposite arguments for both sides from the same person!
MYTH: “Your baby huges so you have to begin solids.”
Mothers may be told to start solids for varying reasons when they have a big baby.
Some are told that given that baby is big, they will not have the ability to produce adequate milk to please baby. This is quite incorrect– nearly all moms have the ability to produce enough milk to solely breastfeed twins as well as triplets. If you permit your baby to nurse on hint, your body will make enough milk for your baby. In addition, research informs us that specifically breastfed babies do not increase the amount of milk they drink after the first 4 weeks or two– after the first month, milk consumption remains constant (except for temporary cravings spurts) until sometime after 6 months when baby begins to eat more solid foods and reduce milk consumption.
Other mothers are told that baby is consuming too much, so mom must reduce baby’s intake by limiting nursing and/or starting solids. There is absolutely NO proof that a large breastfed baby will become a large child or adult, and limiting nursing can be quite harmful for a baby. Find out more here: Is my specifically breastfed baby gaining excessive weight?
MYTH: “Your baby is small so you need to start solids.”
Another reason often offered for beginning solids is due to the fact that baby is small (see Typical Development of Breastfed Babies). I truly do not see the sense in this. Ounce for ounce, breastmilk has more calories than the majority of baby-safe solid foods and considerably more nutrients than any type of solid food that you can feed your baby. Studies have actually shown that for babies under six months, solids tend to replace breastmilk in a baby’s diet– they do not add to baby’s total consumption (WHO 2003, Cohen 1994, Dewey 1999). So beginning solids will probably decrease (rather of boost) the amount of milk and calories that your baby is getting in general. One of the first suggestions for a baby who truly has slow weight gain is to reduce or get rid of solid foods and breastfeed regularly.
MYTH:Baby needs to begin solids because there is inadequate iron in breastmilk.
An extra factor given for starting solids is the “absence of iron in breastmilk.” Breastmilk does have lower iron levels than formula, but the iron in breastmilk is more readily absorbed by the baby’s gut than the iron in formula. Likewise, formula-fed babies have the tendency to lose iron through cracks that develop in their intestines as an outcome of damage from cow’s milk. Breastfed babies do not lose this iron. At some time after the first 6 months (later in the first year for a great deal of babies), babies will require an additional source of iron aside from mom’s milk. This can frequently be obtained through small amounts of solid food. Learn more on iron and the breastfed baby here: Is Iron Supplementation Necessary?.
MYTH: Baby requires solids so he will sleep longer at night.
The popular belief that feeding solids in the evening will assist baby sleep through the night has no basis in fact.