Starting solids... When is the right time?

Health professionals and breastfeeding experts agree that breastmilk or formula is all your baby needs until six months of age. It is important that your baby is both developmentally and physiologically ready to eat solid foods. This is generally between the ages of 6-8 months.

Parents often decide to introduce solids earlier than recommended for a multitude of reasons. Often they are guided by what other parents are doing, their WellChild service has recommended it, they think it will help their baby sleep longer or, the most common reason I hear – “my baby stares at me when I’m eating”. Babies are inquisitive creatures, they learn by watching the world. Following your mouthful or grabbing food from your plate does not mean that their tiny, immature gut is ready for solids.

Below is a list of just a few of the organisations that recommend that all babies are exclusively breastfed (no cereals, juice or other foods) for the first six months of life:

  • - World Health Organisation
  • - UNICEF
  • - Ministry of Health NZ
  • - American Academy of Pediatrics
  • - American Academy of Family Physicians and Research
  • - Australian National Health and Medical Council


Immunity and Allergies

Babies are born with what is often referred to as an ‘open gut’. This means that the spaces between the cells of the small intestines are large enough for macromolecules including whole proteins and pathogens (disease causing cell) to pass directly into the blood stream. This is beneficial for breastfed babies as it allows antibodies to pass through and gives the baby passive immunity via the mother. However, if a baby is given solids before the gut closes, around six months of age, it can predispose the baby to allergies and allow large, disease causing pathogens to pass through.

Exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first three to four months of life reduces the risk of allergic disease, coeliac disease, Type 1 Diabetes, respiratory tract infections, ear infections and Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI). The risk further decreases for babies exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. Furthermore, introducing solids prior to six months of age is also associated with an increase in body fat in adolescents and adults.

Do I need to worry about my baby’s iron levels?

Healthy babies born at term (>37 weeks gestation) have enough iron stores to last at least six months. Breastmilk is rich in iron and is easily absorbed by babies gut. Approximately 50-70% of iron that is available in breastmilk will be absorbed (3-12% in formula), compared with only 4-10% of iron fortified cereals.

Babies born prematurely (<37 weeks gestation) may be at risk for iron deficiency anaemia, as a significant amount of babies iron stores are laid down in the last trimester of pregnancy. It is important that you discuss this with your pediatrician at birth. In New Zealand it is common for an iron fortifier to be added to expressed breastmilk and given to babies born prematurely. Prematurity is not an indication that your baby will need to start solids before six months.


Will starting solids help my baby sleep through the night?

This may not be what you want to hear, but giving your baby solids will not help them to sleep longer.

A 2010 study showed that babies who were given solids prior to four months of age slept, on average, half an hour less each day than babies who were not given solids. Babies wake in the night for many reasons, hunger often being way down the list. Around five months of age, babies sleep patterns change significantly. All babies will wake 4-6 times in the night and without knowing how to self-settle, they will need your assistance to get back to sleep. Click for more info.

But my baby keeps grabbing my lunch! Does that mean she's ready for solids?

Babies explore the world by touch and taste. They will put almost anything they can get their tiny hands on to their mouth, but this doesn’t mean they necessarily want to eat it! Showing interest and/or grabbing the food on your plate doesn’t mean your baby is hungry or needs additional foods. It’s simply their way of exploring their environment and being a part of the fun!

Babies LOVE to be involved in meal times – have them sit with you at the table with some clean, baby friendly utensils like plastic spoons, bowls etc. and let them learn by watching. They may imitate your chewing actions which is fantastic for when they do start eating solid foods. You could also give baby a cup of expressed breast milk or “momsicle” (frozen expressed breastmilk) for something new to try.

When should I start solids?

At the end of the day, you as a parent know what is best for your baby. However, it is important to consider the reasons for starting solids – is your baby truly ready to start solids (both developmentally and physiologically) or are they just interested in what’s on your plate because it is colourful and smells different? Could they be waking in the night because they’re trying to master a new skill like sitting unaided or crawling, rather than being hungry? It is also important to consider the future implications on your baby’s health – the evidence that starting solids prior to six months increases the risk of allergies and infection is black and white.

It’s so cliché, but your children grow up so quickly. Blink and you’ll miss it! Sometimes we need to slow down and enjoy the present. When they start critiquing your culinary skills, you’ll look back fondly on the day when they nuzzled into your chest, staring into your eyes and that beautiful milk-drunk haze spreads across their face… savour that image, just a little bit longer.


By Andrina Wilson, Sleep Coach & Midwife.

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Baby lying on floor, drinking water out of a cup - starting solids nz  Pink silicone baby food and breast milk freezer tray - perfect for starting baby on solids 


Cameron, S., Taylor, R., & Heath, A. (2013). Parent-led or baby-led? Associations between complementary feeding practices and health-related behaviours in a survey of New Zealand families. BMJ open, 3(12), e003946.

Kramer, M., Guo, T., Platt, R., Sevkovskaya, Z., Dzikovich, I., Collet, J., Shapiro, S., Chalmers, B., Hodnett, E., Vanilovich, I., Mezen, I., Ducruet, T., Shishko, G., & Bogdanovich, N.(2003). Infant growth and health outcomes associated with 3 compared with 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 78(2):291-5.

Ministry of Health, NZ. (2015). Feeding your baby. Retrieved from

Nevarez, M., Rifas-Shiman, S., Kleinman, K., Gillman, M., & Taveras, E. (2010). Associations of early life risk factors with infant sleep duration. Academic Pediatrics, 10(3):187-93. doi:10.1016/j.acap.2010.01.007

World Health Organisation. (2011). Exclusive breastfeeding for six months best for babies everywhere. Retrieved from

World Health Organisation. (2001). The optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding: A systematic review. Retrieved from



Mentioned Products:

3B4A0W602 Bowl & Straw - Strawberry Shake (Small) Putting the fun in functional!  Bowl and straw makes it easier and more fun for kids to drink/eat soup or cereal.  Bonus snack insert transforms bowl into on-the-go snack holder.  BPA, Phthalates and PVC free. Contains:  1 x bowl, 1 x straw, 1 x clip.  1 x lid, 1 x snack insert Features: 6m+ Large easy grip handles encourage independence Removable straw and clip Tear drop bowl shape Non slip base Easy storage lid Snack insert Dishwasher and microwave safe· Made from PP and TPE Dimensions: 9.5x9x14.5cm (with straw attached), 9.5x7.5x14.5cm (without straw) BPA, Phthalates and PVC free
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Infant Spoon - Red Re-Play's infant spoons are designed to compliment both feeding baby and baby self-feeding.  All Re-Play infant spoons are made from recycled milk jugs (HDPE recycled plastic), so not only are they better for your child, they are better for your environment! Mix and match utensils with our plates, bowls, and cups to create a vibrant tableware set! Ergonomic comfort grip Length of handle keeps hands clean and allows baby to help feed himself Spoon depth accommodates first bites and growing appetites   Contoured edges clean up messy faces in a breeze Gentle on the mouth and gums, tough against little teeth Dishwasher safe PVC, BPA and phthalate free Made in the USA Age range: first bites through the first year About Re-Play: FAMILY OWNED SINCE 1987: Re-Think It, Inc. was founded by husband and wife team Craig and Amy Shumway with the goal of producing high quality, durable, and sustainable consumer goods. Re-Think It began producing an all-purpose scrubber called the Original Power Puff, featuring a long handle made out of recycled milk jugs. In 2011, Re-Think It unveiled the Re-Play line of infant and toddler dishware. Featuring a wide colour palette, each plate, bowl, cup, and utensil is manufactured out of recycled, FDA-approved, food safe plastic. Today, Re-Think It remains family owned and family-focused company dedicated to providing sustainable and affordable products, while following responsible environmental and social business practices.  WORK CULTURE: Family values and responsibilities are a leading priority in our com
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First Feeding Set - Blue How handy are these baby First Feeding Sets!   Available in a range of colours, little ones will be excited to dig into meals when served in this adorable feeding set!  This bowl is the perfect size for beginning eaters and can transition with them as they become more skilled using the matching spoon, it even includes a handy lid to store food in the fridge.   Made from durable 100% food grade silicone and easy to clean, this set will be in heavy rotation at mealtime, the suction base keeps the bowl from sliding around table or tray. Easy to clean!  Either hand wash or put in the dishwasher.  Food grade silicone is durable, stain resistant, and doesn’t harbour bacteria. Measurements (approx): Bowl - 11.5cm diameter, holding 295ml Spoon - 11.5 cm length x 2.5 cm wide 100% food safe silicone, contains no BPA, PVC, Lead or Phthalates Dishwasher safe - top rack only Please note:  Customers tell us that these don't grip securely to phil&ted Poppy Highchairs due to the texture & shape of the tray.
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B94E0W601 Pulp Silicone Teething Feeder - Green/Blue We all know mesh feeders can be a real mess and difficult to clean. Boon silicone teething feeder allows for easy feeding with its interior firm stem that forces food out where babies can get to it.It’s simple to clean and more durable than mesh feeders. Boon totally has a handle on baby’s snack time and when something is this good, we think it’s okay to get a little mouthy about it.Features:Soft-silicone cover allows baby to self-feed on fruits and vegetables through small holesCan be used with frozen food for teething babiesInterior stem forces food towards feeder holesQuick snap ring allows for easy assemblySmall handle is perfect for baby’s graspEasy to cleanDishwasher-safeAges 6+ monthsDimensions: 4.9" x 1.9" x 1.5" (12.5cm x 5cm x 3.8cm)Cleaning & Care:  Wash thoroughly before initial use and after each use.  Wash each piece separately.  Top rack dishwasher-safe or hand wash in warm, soapy water.  DO NOT microwave.  Silicone mesh may be boiled or sterilized. Please note the blue colour may vary from the image shown.
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Silicone Grip Dish - Red Does dinner usually end in a tantrum with the plate getting thrown across the table?...Not anymore!! The Silicone Grip Dish from Bumkins suctions strongly onto surfaces and is great for little ones learning to self feed, or more experienced eaters using utensils. Perfectly sized for toddler portions, straight edge allows kids to belly up to the plate, causing less mess. Easy to clean!  Either hand wash or put in the dishwasher.  Food grade silicone is durable, stain resistant, and doesn’t harbour bacteria. Fits most high chair trays, approximately 20.3cm (Across) x 17.8cm (Tall) x 2.54cm (Deep) 6 Months + Each plate measures 8.5" W x 9.75" L x .5" D. 100% food safe silicone, contains no BPA, PVC, Lead or Phthalates. Dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe - Wash before first use. Please note:  Customers tell us that these don't grip securely to phil&ted Poppy Highchairs due to the texture & shape of the tray.
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HK5B0W602 Silicone Baby Food and Breast Milk Freezer Tray - Blue 9 Compartments: 9 x 35 ml = 315ml Ditch that old plastic freezer tray covered with plastic cling wrap and start freezing your homemade baby food in a safe and practical way! The Haakaa Freezer Tray is perfect for freezing puree, homemade baby food, breast milk or even plain old ice cubes! Made of 100% silicone, this handy little tray is totally heatproof, microwave safe, dishwasher safe and free of any nasties that come with leaching plastic freezer trays.  Our freezer trays are perfect for infants getting used to the taste of solids. Freeze large batches of food into easy, perfectly-sized meals using our three different sizes of freezer tray: 9 Compartments: 9 x 35 ml = 315ml Features: 100% food grade silicone. Available in three different sizes. Dishwasher and microwave safe. Flexible silicone body to make removing cubes a breeze.  Keep food fresh for up to 6 months. BPA, PVC and phthalate-free.  Instructions: Simply pour expressed breast milk, yoghurt, fruit or pureed baby food into each individual tray and place in the freezer. When your cubes are frozen, simply remove from freezer and twist the tray. If cubes do not pop out straight away, with the cover still on, run under warm water for a few seconds. The cubes will then pop out easily. Use what you need and put the rest back in the freezer.  Cleaning & Care: Wash before and after each use. Although dishwasher safe, we recommend hand washing your freezer tray with warm, soapy water and rinsing thoroughly. Do not use any bleach-based cleaners or tablets to sterilise or clean your Haakaa products. To sterilise, use a steam steriliser (electric or microwave) or boil in water for 2-3
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MQ5B0W601 Solids Starter Kit Nourish your baby with healthy, homemade baby food, in less than 30 minutes a week! At last, the Solids Starter Kit makes it truly easy to freeze and store big batches of healthy, home-made baby puree and food for older babies.  These unique freezing trays and lids are Mum-designed to help you keep up with your baby’s growing appetite.    Each Solids Starter Kit includes: 2 x Premium baby food freezer trays 2 x Snug fit lids - one for each tray Step-by-step baby food recipe e-book with 27 recipes Benefits: Save Time - When you can freeze up to 42 cubes at once. Save Space - In your freezer with our unique, stackable design. Snug Fit - Trays and lids fit securely eliminating spills, contamination and freezer burn. Easy-Out Cubes - Simply press on one end of the cube and it will slide out the other end. (Please do not twist the trays) Store baby food and beyond - Expressed breast milk, Home-made baby puree, Meals for older babies and more! Perfect portion sizes, Made in New Zealand and endorsed by Nutritionists. Healthy home-made baby food in 3 easy steps: Prepare and puree your baby’s fresh, home-made baby food.  Get started with the help of the simple step-by-step e-guide. Spoon portions into your mumi&bubi freezing trays. Place in freezer - frozen food will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks in the trays.  Or, freeze overnight and remove your cubes to a freezer bag so you can use your trays again. All ages, BPA Free.
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mumi & bubi

SK4C0S402 Zoo Divided Plate - Hedgehog Make mealtime Zoo time! Little ones will love having their very own plate, bowl and cup featuring their favorite Zoo character! Bright colors and whimsical faces make mealtime fun. Our Zoo Tableware is made of durable melamine and dishwasher-safe. The collection is perfect for mixing and matching.
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