At about two months old my little girl looked liked she was already interested in food. Because I had been sleeping her on her tummy (as mentioned in my previous post) she had already gained a lot of good neck control. But I thought I should wait. She got to 12 weeks and I thought she can’t wait much longer! She looked like she was going to steal food from my mouth. So at 12 weeks I started her on rice cereal and breast milk.
Now just to backtrack a little I had been talking to my mum about this and she had started me on rice cereal when I was three months old. Actually, the story goes that one night I wouldn’t sleep at all and my dad had had enough and thought I must be starving. So out of sheer desperation he mixed up Weetbix with milk (cow’s milk) and fed me four Weetbix in a row. I was starving! After that they continued to feed me solids. My sisters and brothers were all started on solids in that 3 – 4 month age range. My cousins were given solids at 6 weeks. No one in my family (on my Dad’s side) has any allergies and that is out of 25 cousins.
I then find out from my GP that recently the information has changed and “experts” are saying that babies need to start solids between 4 to 6 months. And not only that, but they all the highly allergenic foods should be introduced to them during this period as well. My Maternal Child Health Nurse also told me that I should start feeding my baby solids even though this is contrary to the advice from the World Health Organisation and also from the Australian Breast Feeding Association. They both recommend that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life. However, my my Maternal Child Health Nurse told me that they have found that too many babies are starving during this period and parents are turning to formula milk to try and fill them up.
Again looking back on my family and extended families experiences we were introduced to things like eggs and peanut butter very early on, and again no one in my family has any allergies to these things.
Lets get back to my little one. She has been eating solids now since she was 3 months (she is now nearly 6 months old). At the start it was just at dinner time and I would feed her rice cereal mixed with breast milk. At nearly 4 months I started mixing some stewed pear or apple into the rice cereal. Then after 4 months I introduced two meals a day and started her on new flavours such as banana, carrots, pumpkin, avocado, blueberries, brocolli and parsnip.
At 4 and half months old I started giving her 3 meals a day. For breakfast she has Weetbix mixed with cow’s milk and hot water. Lunch is normally some puréed veggies, followed by yoghurt and stewed fruit. Dinner is also puréed veggies but from about 5 months onwards I started giving her meat with her dinner. I purée veggies and meat together, or add some sauce (such as pasta sauce) from our own dinner to her veggies. I have also given her egg custard and will soon introduce her to fish and nuts. So far it has all been going really well and she has had no problems with any of the foods she has tried. She loves her meal times and eats like a little champion. I am still breastfeeding her and will probably continue breastfeeding until she is about a year old.
If you are thinking of starting your baby on solids early and are confused about all the conflicting advice that is out there, I would suggest that you go with your gut feeling and observations of your own baby. Every baby is different and will develop differently. My youngest brother wasn’t started on solids until he was 5 months old because that was when my Mum thought he was ready. I read quite a bit of information before I decided to start her on solids early but really I was prompted by the fact that she seemed to want it. I have also found that my mum and aunties are a wealth of knowledge and that they’re knowledge comes from experience.
Below a listed some of the signs that you should look out for that indicate if your baby is ready for solids (from Momtastic’s Wholesome Baby Food):
Loss of tongue-thrust reflex – This allows baby to drink and swallow liquids with ease; with the tongue-thrust reflex still present, baby may simply drink in liquid purees or push the food back out. According to Dr. Jim Sears, in the first four months the tongue thrust reflex protects the infant against choking. When any unusual substance is placed on the tongue, it automatically protrudes outward rather than back. Between four and six months this reflex gradually diminishes, and that glob of cereal actually may have a chance of making it from the tongue to the tummy!
Ability to let you know she is full from a “meal” with signs such as turning away from the bottle or breast. This is important so that baby is able to self-regulate the amount of food being eaten. This helps stop baby from accidentally overeating as parents may continue to feed baby thinking that she is still hungry.
Ability to sit up and hold head up unassisted
Interest in your food (I tend to disagree with this one as when a baby reaches the age of 4-6 months, he is interested in putting everything in his mouth.)
Doubling of birth weight
Frequently waking in the middle of the night when a solid sleeping pattern had been established. This may not be the best indicator that your baby is ready for solids. Please keep in mind that a growth spurt will occur between 3-4 months of age, 6-7 months of age and also 9-10 months of age. Your baby may also be waking due to an illness or teething.
For further information:
- Back to the Future on Breastfeeding: http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/back-to-the-future-on-breastfeeding-20120414-1x0gh.html
- Is Your Baby Ready for Solid Foods? Learn About Baby’s Signs of Readiness for Solid Foods:
What has been your experience of starting your baby on solids?