Before 6 months of age, breast milk (the food of choice for infants) or alternative formulas provide all the nutrients for a healthy, full-term baby.
The recommended age for introducing solid foods is 6 months. However, since each child has his or her own growth rate, solid foods may be needed a few weeks earlier.
Around 6 months of age, her energy and nutrient needs increase and most babies are physiologically and physically ready to eat more consistent foods. This is the beginning of a long learning process that leads to the discovery of new and stimulating textures and flavours!
Why not introduce solid foods before the age of 6 months?
- Children are not ready to swallow: their saliva production is insufficient and the development of the neuromuscular coordination needed to swallow solid foods is not completed until 16 to 18 weeks.
- The child's digestive capacity is limited to receive foods other than breast milk or milk substitutes.
- The Children's kidneys are not developed enough to tolerate large amounts of protein.
- The immune system of young babies is very fragile and the introduction of solid foods too early increases the risk of allergies and intolerance.
Why is it important to introduce solid foods before 7-9 months of age?
- Breastmilk or formula no longer meets the child's needs: there is therefore a risk of stunted growth and deficiency of certain nutrients (iron, zinc, vitamins A and D).
- Some feeding problems, such as a preference for liquids and rejection of consistent food, may occur.
The critical age for establishing taste and texture preferences appears to be around 6 to 9 months of age.
How do you know if your baby is ready?
The introduction of solids usually coincides with either of these signs in full term babies around 6 months of age:
- The baby has been asking to drink more often for more than 5 days and still seems hungry.
- He is insatiable at the breast (8-10 feeds in 24 hours) or bottle-feeding (at least 40 oz. per day). He empties both breasts or bottles, but is still hungry. It's cereal time.
- He may be interested in the foods eaten by those around him.
The child should also be able to stand in a high chair without support and be able to control the muscles in his neck, for example turning his head in a sign of refusal.
And finally remember! Solid foods are a complement to milk, not a substitute for it!
Breast milk remains the basis of your baby's diet throughout the first year of life. Until 6 months of age, serve it at the beginning of a meal, before solid foods.