When you start researching, meal planning, buying high chairs and little plates in preparation for when your baby is going to start solids, you realize how quickly time passes.
I mean, she is practically half way to her first birthday, even tho I held her on my chest for the first time only yesterday it feels!
A selfish part of me wants to remain her only source of nutrition. I like knowing that I'm the only person keeping her alive and helping her grow with my breastmilk.
But since I have to start solids, I'm going to do it right! Part of that is knowing if she is developmentally ready to start and luckily there is a tick-list so that I don't have to wonder and guess.
Remember to always breastfeed first, 30 min to 20 min before offering a meal, as breastmilk / formula remains the main source of nutrition for the first year of life.
Developmental Readiness Signs for Starting Solids
- She is at least 6 months old. (Most babies are developmentally ready between 6 to 8 months. If they were born premature e.g. before 37 weeks gestation, remember to use their corrected age.)
- She is able to sit up straight and unassisted for longer than a couple seconds. (This is very important to minimize choking risk. Also, supported sitting where she needs to keep her hands in her legs to brace herself does not count.)
- She has lost the tongue-thrust-reflex where her tongue naturally pushes everything out and now she rather uses her tongue to transfer the food to the back of her mouth. (You would see the tongue-thrust-reflex all those times where the mom is feeding the baby and needs to keep scooping the puree off the baby's chin with the spoon to keep shoveling it into his mouth. You can test to see if it is gone by placing a clean empty spoon or you finger on the bottom lip and see if the tongue instinctively comes out to push it away.)
- She is willing and able to chew. (Most babies begin to mimic chewing actions while watching their parents eat.)
- She shows interest in mealtime and food. (Not to be mistaken for that period around 4 months where they begin to show interest in EVERYTHING.)
- She has developed the pincer-grasp where she can pick up things between her forefinger and thumb. (This one is not a hard rule and some babies only fully develop this around 8 months. Offering peas that are soft enough to squish between your fingers with the first couple of meal times should help her practice and perfect her pincer-grasp.)
Once your baby has reached all these milestones, you can start with solids. A good way to introduce solids is by doing Baby Led Weaning, where you let your baby take the lead in a safe environment with appropriate types and sized foods.
If you think your baby is ready but not 100% sure, you can offer some food and see how it goes. Some moms wait a couple of weeks if they see their baby is not ready yet after all. You could try each week if need be. Once you are certain, you offer food each day after nursing and eventually your baby will start eating more and more.
Remember to always breastfeed first, 30 min to 20 min before offering a meal, as breastmilk / formula remains the main source of nutrition for the first year of life. If you are scared your baby did not each much, you can breastfeed afterwards as well. Food before one year of age is mainly for learning and sensory exploration and development.