Welcome to Pharmacy Help. Providing Professional Caring Service just for you.

Health Facts

General Health


Toddlers & Children




Introduction of Solids - When & Why

The recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months is the result of a systematic review by the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.). The introduction of solids prior to 6 months in breastfed infants has little effect on the growth of the infant in affluent populations. The W.H.O. recommendation, including solid foods for the first 6 months, includes babies artificially fed on formula.

Dispelling a few myths and misinformation

  • Babies should not be given solid foods such as cereals in an attempt to make them sleep through the night.
  • Although the baby may accept the food, this isn't an indication that the baby is ready for the food.
  • Giving an exclusively breastfed baby water or fruit juice is unnecessary during their first 6 months of life.
  • Young babies should not be given solid food (i.e. cereal) diluted in bottles.

Why solid food is introduced at 6 months

  • By 6 months the baby’s gastrointestinal system is beginning to mature. Thus when food is offered for the first time at 6 months there is less chance of allergic reactions occurring.
  • By 6 months the foetal stores of iron are becoming depleted and the baby begins using his or her iron stores. Thus the baby needs iron-fortified cereals or other iron-fortified foods when beginning solid food.
  • Introduction before 6 months of age can also increase the risk of obesity and other health problems.

At 6 months of age most babies show signs that they are
ready to try solid food and new ways of feeding.

Some of these signs include:

  • Baby shows interest when you're eating and reaches for food.
  • Baby looks for more food after a full breastfeed or bottle-feed.
  • Baby can hold their head steady while sitting supported.
  • Disappearance of the “extrusion reflex”. This reflex is responsible for babies pushing their tongue forward and upwards. This action helps with sucking but is also the reason for babies pushing food out of their mouths when they start on solids. It disappears around 6 months of age.

How to start introducing solids

Taking solid food is something baby will need to learn. There is no need to rush the process.

  • Start by offering a single food. Baby rice cereal is a good one to start with as it is unlikely to cause any digestive upsets or allergies. It is also high in iron. You will need to mix it with breast milk, water or formula. Make it quite runny to start with.
  • Offer solids after a milk feed. Until baby is able to take a well balanced diet and three meals a day, breastmilk or formula will continue to be the main source of nourishment.
  • Use a soft tipped small plastic spoon.
  • Offer the solid feed in the morning so that if baby does develop an intolerance such as a gastric upset the worst will have past by night time
  • Introduce new foods one at a time every 3-4 days. This will allow you to determine whether a particular food is upsetting baby or identify if baby is allergic to it. Signs of allergy could be vomiting, diarrhoea or skin rashes and these may take a few days to develop. Most babies won’t have any problems with solid foods. Once you are sure baby is not going to react to a food a second food can be mixed in with the first; taking care to only add one new food at a time.
  • Start with easy to digest foods such as pureed potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot & zucchini. Stewed and pureed apples and pears are also good starting foods, as is ripe banana.
  • At first, offer only one teaspoonful of food. Gradually increasing this by 1 teaspoon every 2 or 3 days until baby is taking about 2 tablespoons of solid food. Continue at this level for another few days an then add an early evening meal.
  • From about 8 months baby should be ready to try slightly lumpier foods such as mashed vegies and finely minced meats and chicken.

Babies develop at different rates and there is a wide range of normal. However if you're experiencing problems regarding introducing solid food to your baby contact Pharmacy Help.