As your baby grows so will their nutritional needs, the food that you give them will help them grow and develop. That’s why the Department of Health and Children recommend exclusive breast feeding for the first 6 months of life with the gradual introduction of solids combined with breastfeeding until the age of 2 years and beyond. Solids should be introduced for all babies at around 6 months of age and not before 17 weeks (FSAI, 2012).
It is important that you do not introduce solids before 17 weeks at the very earliest
It is important that you do not introduce solids before 17 weeks as your little one’s digestive system will not be able to cope with solids before that young age. On the other side of the scale the introduction of solids should not be delayed longer than 26 weeks. If you’re thinking of starting to wean because they’ve got a bigger appetite than usual look out for the signs that they are ready to be weaned onto solids (e.g. sucking their fists, taking an interest in what you are eating) before you begin weaning. They may just be going through a growth spurt!
When your baby reaches 4-6 months, milk alone will not be sufficient to meet the increased nutritional needs of your baby. Your baby’s usual milk combined with a healthy balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables will provide all the nutrients your baby needs. At this stage your baby’s natural iron stores which they received in the womb will have depleted so it is important that you include iron rich foods in your baby’s diet e.g. red meat, green leafy vegetables, eggs and beans.
The more varied the diet is, the less likely your baby is to become a fussy eater so it’s a good idea to offer a wide range of tastes and textures. Take a look at our weaning recipe section for some ideas. It will also be easier to introduce him/her to family meals as they get older. As your baby progresses through weaning incorporating your baby’s feeding times with family meal times will help your baby form positive attitudes about food and eating and create fond family memories that will last a lifetime.
The skills required for the intake of solids like chewing and swallowing, which are second nature to you, are skills that your baby will acquire during the weaning period and which will go a long way in establishing your baby’s speech.
If you feel your baby is ready for solids and not sure how to begin, call our dedicated team of baby feeding advisors and nutritionists. We are on hand to guide you through the different stages of weaning and answer any questions no matter how big or small you feel they maybe, so please contact our Careline. You may also like to read our article on How to start weaning?