When should my baby start solids?

Posted 5.30.13 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

Infant baby foodA time of high anxiety for families of infants using a hypoallergenic infant formula like Neocate Infant is the introduction of solids foods. Many parents in this scenario are concerned about possible allergic reactions to new foods.

Some recently published research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uncovered that many families may be introducing solid foods too early, regardless of food allergies. Here are some of the latest guidelines and results of research.

The recommendations

Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) changed their recommendations for introducing solid foods. Where they had previously recommended introducing solids no earlier than 4 months of age, they now recommend waiting until about 6 months. This is because the AAP recommends breast milk should be an infant’s sole source of nutrition through 6 months of age. (Many families that follow our blogs are aware that, for some infants, breast milk may not be an option, and Neocate Infant may be recommended by the healthcare team). For families in Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) has similar recommendations.

The AAP provides some other helpful information on introducing solids here, and CPS has more for Canadian families here. Starting solids too early can be dangerous, as it’s important to give your baby solids when she has the right skills for swallowing. Also, the early introduction of solid foods has been linked to (but not proven to cause - there's a difference!) increased risk of obesity, diabetes, eczema and even celiac disease. Rely on your healthcare team to help guide you on what signs to look for to tell when your baby is ready to start solid foods.

What researchers found

The CDC conducted surveys of 1,334 parents to see when they introduced solids foods and why. They published the results in the AAP journal, Pediatrics - you can find a summary of the results here. What the researchers found was that over 40% of the parents surveyed introduced solid foods before 4 months, earlier than the AAP and CPS recommend!

Parents gave many reasons for introducing solids, including wanting to give something in addition to formula or breast milk. It’s important to note that infant formulas like Neocate Infant are nutritionally complete, and can meet an infant’s full nutritional needs until a member of the healthcare team recommends introducing solids. 

What solid to introduce first

For infants using a hypoallergenic infant formula like Neocate Infant, it’s normal for parents and caregivers to wonder what solid is “safest” to introduce first. The best thing to do is to check with your little one’s healthcare team to see what they recommend. Also ask them when to introduce solids, and follow their advice!

Again, the AAP and CPS offers some great guidelines around introducing solids (see links above). For infants with severe allergies or who have trouble tolerating solid foods, the healthcare team may recommend Neocate Nutra. Neocate Nutra is the only amino acid-based semi-solid that can be given to infants 6 months and older.

What questions do you have about introducing solid foods?

- Rob McCandlish, RDN
Nutrition Specialist

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Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.