When should I start introducing solid foods to my baby?

Getting children to eat their vegetables

Parents often ask me “When should I start introducing solid foods to my baby?” and many are confused by what the advice is.

The Department of Health recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, followed by the gradual introduction of solid foods. Previous advice was to introduce solid foods to baby at around 4 months of age, however, the World Health Organisation and the Department of Health changed this advice in 2001. This was due to sufficient scientific evidence suggesting that exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age was adequate.

However there is still a lot of confusion from parents, health visitors and even the infant feeding industry about when to start introducing solid foods to babies. This is partly because many parents would seek advice on introducing solid foods from friends, parents and relatives who had all been told to introduce solid foods at around 4 months of age, based on previous public health recommendations. On top of this, food products for babies still said “suitable from four months” which didn’t help to encourage the new recommendation to delay the introduction of solid foods until 6 months.

Current recommendations for introducing solid foods to babies..

However, since 2001 research has moved on and although the current Department of Health advice is still to introduce solid foods at around 6 months of age, there is more recognition that there is a need for flexibility when giving advice about introducing solid foods to babies. Certain organisations such as the British Dietetic Association and ESPGHAN take a more flexible approach to the recommendations, suggesting that solid foods should be introduced “by 6 months of age, but not before 4 months”.

Signs your baby is ready for solid foods:

The need for this slightly more ‘flexible’ approach is because children are all individuals and will grow, develop and even be ready for solid foods at different stages. There are certain signs to look out for that might suggest that your baby is ready for trying solid foods such as; sitting up and holding their head steady themselves, taking a real interest in solid foods and the foods you’re eating, coordinate their hand, eyes and mouth (you might notice them being about to pick up and put things in their mouth themselves). It’s important to try and wait for these signs to appear together before starting to offer solids to your little one.

Should I start weaning early?

If you do decide to introduce solid foods to your baby before 6 months, it’s a good idea to speak to your Health Visitor before you do so, to ensure you know what foods are good options and what foods you should avoid offering to baby. Additionally make sure you never offer baby solid foods before 4 months of age!

When should I start weaning?

Help your little ones enjoy foods by making mealtimes fun!

2 responses to “When should I start introducing solid foods to my baby?”

  1. Patricia Becker says:

    great info for new parents. weaning starts with the intro of solid food, and is a progression to a big lie diet. during the second year of life kids are more than ready to receive all their nutrients from food and drinks from a cup. human milk is liquid gold so as long as mom and baby are happy and comfortable with continuing providing and receiving human milk they should do so.
    real foods offered individually are the best foods for babies. what the family eats works for babies too. fruits, vegetables, whole grain foods, whole fat diary foods and lean tender meats. other proteins foods such as beans, nuts and nut butters and eggs can be introduced in small amounts as well to help build allergy tolerance.

    Love Foodie in Training!
    Patricia Becker MS RDN CSP CNSV

    • SR Nutrition says:

      Thanks Patricia! Sorry I’ve only just come across this comment but pleased you agree and found it useful for new parents!

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