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Starting Solids: Signs Your Baby is Ready

Introducing solid foods is a significant milestone in a baby’s first year of life. It marks the beginning of a new dietary journey, offering a world of flavours and textures to explore.

But how can you tell when your little one is ready to explore the world of solids?

Let's look into the cues that indicate your baby might be ready for that exciting first spoonful.

Age as a Guideline
At around the age of six months, your baby will start to need solid foods, in addition to breast milk (or infant formula), to meet their energy and nutrient needs. Before this age, a baby's digestive system isn't fully equipped to process solid foods. Manatu Haurora - Ministry of Health guidelines recommended to start on solid’s no earlier than 4 months old and no later than 7 months old. 

While age is a basic guide, it's essential to remember that every baby is unique, and age alone shouldn't be the determining factor. So, look for other signs of readiness in conjunction with age.

Showing Interest in Food
One of the first signs that your baby might be ready for solids is their interest in what you're eating. They may watch you closely as you eat, reach out for your food, or even open their mouth when they see you taking a bite. This curiosity is a positive indication that they are becoming aware of solid foods.

Good Head Control and Sitting with Less Help
An important sign that your baby might be ready for solids is if they can hold their head up steadily. Babies need to have good neck and head control to safely swallow solid foods. If your baby can sit upright with minimal support, it's also a sign that their motor skills have developed to a point where they might be ready to start experimenting with solid foods. Sitting upright helps in proper food swallowing and digestion.

Decreased Tongue-Thrust Reflex
If your baby is at the stage where they can keep food in their mouth, instead of spitting it out, it is another sign they are developmentally ready to start exploring the world of solids. Babies are born with a natural reflex to push things out of their mouths. This is called the tongue-thrust reflex. As they grow, this reflex diminishes, allowing them to keep food in their mouths and begin the process of swallowing.

Chewing Reflex and Ability to Gum
Your baby may start to exhibit a chewing reflex, even without teeth. They might "gum" on their fingers or toys, which indicates their readiness to handle the textures of solid foods. You can introduce soft, easily mashed foods at this stage.


What to Remember When Introducing Solids:

Start Slow: Slowly and patiently encourage your baby to eat by continuing to offer food, but not forcing them to eat. As with all parenting journeys, patience, observation, and parental intuition go a long way.

Continue Breastmilk or Formula: Remember, breastmilk or formula will remain your baby's primary nutrition source for the first year. Solids during the initial stages are more about exploration and supplementing their diet. Start with milk first until your baby is 8-9 months old and offer solids as a ‘top up’.

Emotional readiness: We have discussed the physical signs of readiness, but emotional signs of readiness are also important. It’s best to choose a time of day when both you and your baby are relaxed.

Consistency: Baby’s first foods should be smooth and easy to swallow. You can gradually introduce thicker textures as they become accustomed.


Starting solids is an exciting journey for both you and your baby. Keep in mind that every baby develops at their own pace, so it's crucial to watch for the signs of readiness rather than sticking strictly to a timeline. Once you've identified these signs, you can gradually introduce a variety of nutritious, age-appropriate foods to your baby's diet. Remember to be patient, offer a variety of flavours and textures, and enjoy this new phase of your baby's development together.


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