As a parent, it's likely you know a lot of the basics of baby feeding. You probably know you're supposed to introduce solids at around four to six months, but do you know why? How will you know when your baby is ready?
Milking the early months
From birth until the age of about four to six months, your little one's digestive tract is still developing, meaning it cannot yet handle solid food.
At this point, breast milk or formula is giving your baby all the nutrition he needs, which will be evident in his rooting reflex.
This is a reflex that causes babies to automatically turn their faces and make sucking movements when touched on the cheek or lip. This natural inclination helps your baby breastfeed instinctively.
Is it time for solids?
Introducing solids doesn't mean breast or bottle-feeding stops - it is more of an addition to it in the first stages. Still, there are a few pointers to look out for that may help you know when you can start bringing on the fruits, veggies and other foods.
When your baby is ready to start eating solids, he is likely to show an increased interest in food - reaching out to your plate during meals, opening his mouth and making chewing motions, or putting his fingers in his mouth. You might also notice that he is moving his tongue back and forth.
If your baby has gained a lot of weight and has an increased appetite for breast milk, this can also be another sign.
Introducing solids can be messy business at first. Be sure to seat bub in a chair that reclines - I personally found a bouncer easier than a high chair to start with. And a flexible spoon can help your baby feel more comfortable during the transition and is easier to manoeuvre into little and at times resistant mouths. A good coverage bib will also help protect his clothes from any food that doesn't quite make it into his mouth.
And remember, if they turn their little nose up at first, it doesn't mean they're not ready, it's all just new, textures, smells and sensations and all so different to breast or bottle.
Just be patient and enjoy the ride. Bon appetit