There are a few theories on this, and many would argue that the answer is not cut and dry. The recommendations on when to start solid foods have changed drastically over the years. However, what’s recommended now by Health Canada and the Dietitians of Canada, is that babies start solid foods at 6 months of age. This recommendation is based on both maximizing the time that your baby spends exclusively breastfeeding as well as making sure that your baby’s digestive tract is mature enough to digest solid foods. Waiting until 6 months of age is also thought to minimize the risk of gastrointestinal infections.
There is also no known advantage to starting your baby on solids prior to 6 months of age. In fact, this may lead to overfeeding and a low breastmilk intake. On the flip side, your baby may have an increased chance of developing iron-deficiency anemia if solids are introduced too long after the age of 6 months.Your baby may also have a difficult time learning to eat different textures and accept new flavours if introduced to solids too late.
If your baby was born prematurely, he or she may not be neurologically ready for solids until 6 months after his or her normal due date.
If, when you first try solids, your baby is pushing the food out of his/her mouth (the tongue extrusion reflex), continue to offer solids at his or her pace (it may just take a bit longer for your baby to get the hang of it). You don’t necessarily have to pause the starting solids process, just progress a bit slower at the start and follow your baby’s cues.
My baby was showing obvious signs of being ready for solids at about 5 1/2 months, so I started about a week shy of his 6 month birthday. Your baby may be ready to start a week or so before 6 months, so feel free to experiment a little bit if that’s the case.
Signs that your baby is getting ready to start solids:
- Your baby has started to show more interest in the food that you and the rest of the family are eating
- Your baby is reaching for your food at meals and snacks
- Your baby is able to sit upright and hold his/her head up well
- Your baby is consistently waking up more frequently during the night
- Your baby seems unsatisfied with feeds