FOR THE 6 MONTH OLD
Wow! 6 months! Don’t be alarmed if your baby is starting to wake up at night time again for feeds. This means your baby is likely ready for solids and that milk is not sustaining them through the night anymore. You know your baby is ready for solids when they start showing interest in food. Sit them at the dinner table with you and see if they watch you eat, reach for your food or even scream at you to give them some of your food. If you notice your baby is doing these things, then they are ready for solids. It is safe to start solids as early as 4 months as long as your baby is showing interest in eating. Most start with rice cereal because it is iron fortified, easy to digest and convenient, but you can start with anything. You can pick any food and puree it (however, avoid honey because of the risk of poor pasteurization and botulism). It is best to start with iron rich foods because if your baby is exclusively breastfed, their iron stores will be low as breastmilk does not have iron in it. Start with solids at the dinner time meal so your baby has more food in their belly when they go to bed. This will hopefully get them to sleep through the night again.
We used to recommend avoiding highly allergenic foods such as egg white, seafood and peanuts when introducing solids. We no longer recommend this as it is likely that this avoidance may have actually promoted allergies to these products. At this time, we recommend introducing any and all solids (except honey) to your baby.
There are no hard and fast rules regarding starting solids. There are however, a few guidelines to follow. Introduce a new food every 3-4 days. This is done so that if your baby has an allergy to something, you will know exactly what it is. If you start multiple foods on one day and your baby has a reaction, you will have to avoid all of those products until we figure out exactly what they are allergic to. Give solids before you give your baby milk. The reason for this is because you are now starting the transitional process to having your child eat solids as their primary calories and only having milk as an add on. You want your baby to eat as much solids as they want and then top them up with milk. By the time your child is 1 year old, they should be eating 3 meals, 2 snacks and 2 cups of milk per day, like you or I. They should be eating the same foods as you and you should not be making them any special foods by 1 year of age.
It is safe to start cow’s milk by 10 months of age. If you want to go back to work early or wean off breastfeeding around this time, it is ok to transition to cow’s milk. Formula is still safe and ok to use at this time as well, however if you want to save your money, homo milk will also do the trick.
If your baby can and will use a sippy cup, start it sooner than later. Children often get attached to the bottle as opposed to the milk and you may run into difficulties in the future trying to wean them off of the bottle. Switch them sooner to avoid a hard time for yourself in the future.
At this point, your 6 month old will likely be able to sit up independently. They can roll over in both directions (front to back and back to front). They are likely putting everything including their hands and feet in their mouth. They are passing items between their hands. They are drooling up a storm and may even have some teeth coming through. You’ll see them always smiling, laughing and giggling during this milestone. Enjoy the last few months of stationary baby before they become mobile!