A Guide to Introducing Solids

Mmmm, yummy!
We often wonder when is the best time to put our little ones on solids. Are they grabbing at everything that goes near your mouth? Are they taking swipes at the plate? It might be time to start considering their development timeline and how their dietary needs are changing.

Birth to 6 months

The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend, as the gold standard, exclusive breast-feeding to age 6 months.
If not breast, an infant formula that contains iron (not low iron) should be used as iron is needed for brain growth. Baby’s stomach can’t digest anything but lactose (the sugar in milk) Breast-fed babies do not need extra water.

6 months

Solids may be introduced as baby is losing the tongue-pushing reflex (4 mths) and is sitting up (6 mths)

  • Cereal may be started in a bowl with formula or breast-milk. Cereal in a bottle prevents baby from learning to advance to an adult type diet, and one may over feed and encourage obesity. Start with rice, as there are fewer allergies.
  • Fresh fruit such as banana, mango, watermelon may be started.
  • Fresh juices squeezed to a cup or bottle e.g. watermelon, apple carrot. Citrus has a higher incidence of allergies.
  • Extra water may be used.
  • If your baby is formula fed, solids may be started at 4 months.

6 – 9 months

  • finger foods – bread/crackers
  • porridge e.g. cream of wheat/oats
  • callaloo/mashed potatoes/eddoes/dasheen/yam
  • split peas – dhal consistency
  • high chair is useful as baby is now sitting up
  • Baby should have 3 meals a day
  • No extra sugar or salt is needed

9 months

The aim is to be eating out of the family pot by 9 months. Offer strips of chicken or beef or fish or more legumes (for vegetarians). At this age, your baby should be having three meals a day.

The volume of milk consumed will decrease. You may start offering the cup. Baby’s growth rate will slow down.

1 year

Milk is no longer the main food source. Your baby should be off the bottle (latest 15 mths) and consuming other solid foods. Late weaning is difficult to interrupt, since habits are difficult to change. By this age, no more than 2 cups of milk per day is the recommended intake.

You may change to cow’s milk. Before 1 year of age, cow’s milk has insufficient iron, and causes hidden bleeding from baby’s gut. Milk may be offered in a cup or with a straw.

If your baby is still consuming large volumes of milk at this age, there is a risk of problems with anemia, poor growth and dental caries (bottles in the mouth especially at night, promotes caries).