A Dietitians Guide to Starting Solids: Pt 1 – Readiness

December 7, 2019
Image for Starting Solids Blog Series

Starting solids is such an exciting milestone for any mom. Your baby up until this point has survived solely on milk to grow but now requires additional nutrients from foods to continue growing.   This is also a developmental milestone as well as having a physiological need that requires the introduction of solids.  The aim is to start well so that by 1 year of age your baby is able to enjoy the family diet.  The term weaning is often used when starting solids but I will not be using that terminology as the concept of “weaning” is when you are stopping milk and replacing with foods however this only occurs around 12 months but you are encouraged to continue breastfeeding for as long as possible and can also continue with formula milk feeds as well after 12 months.

To ensure your baby is growing well it is important to have them weighed and their length measured monthly with your clinic sister, dietitian or doctor.  This will give you piece of mind that they are growing well and also allow you to intervene sooner rather than later if any growth issues are noted and a trend can be monitored.  What is lacking nutritionally at 6 months that baby can no longer get in sufficient quantities from milk: Iron and zinc as well as needing increased amounts of manganese, fluoride, vitamins D, E, B6, niacin, thiamin, biotin, magnesium and phosphorus not forgetting needing to meet increased energy requirements from being increasingly active.

There is a lot of information available for you to use to guide you on this journey but I hope in this series to give you options and ideas to assist you during this very exciting time using evidence based information.  The introduction of solids can sometimes cause some stress and often anxiety to a new mom but I wish to encourage you that with sufficient planning and with some evidence based advice you will feel empowered to guide your baby through this next phase of their growth and thereby ensure healthy foods habits throughout their life.

How to know when your baby is ready for solids?

The ideal age to start your baby is when they show signs of readiness which is often around 6 months of age.  The aim is to ensure baby’s digestive system is ready so often when the internal readiness stage is reached these external signs will be displayed.

  1. Good head control
  2. Able to sit on their own (not supported).
  3. Shows hunger by leaning forward towards food and can show satiety (feeling of being full) by turning their head away.
  4. Has no tongue thrust and is therefore able to swallow (purees can sometimes override this so make sure baby is taking nicely from a spoon and you are not forcing it in).
  5. Have good hands to eye coordination and is therefore able to bring food to their mouth.Signs often mistaken for readiness:


  1. Baby is hungrier than usual (remember that babies at 4 months often go through a growth spurt. If you’re breastfeeding this allows your milk supply to increase with the increased demand from your baby so by introducing solids your breast milk supply will be affected).
  2. You want your baby to sleep through the night – don’t we all, but prematurely giving solids before they are developmentally ready isn’t advisable. Also waking up more at night is not a sign.
  3. Chewing fists.

Solids are required generally around 6 months which coincides with babies increased iron and protein needs. Besides nutritional needs babies have sensory requirements fulfilled by enjoying solids so prepare to have mess and play time around meals.

In the next part we will be discussing what kitchen items you might require for this journey! If you have any questions you are hoping to learn through this series, please leave a comment below.

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.