safe motherhood

Feeding your baby

Milk can provide all that your baby's needs for the first six months of their life, yet many babies are still started on solid foods early. For some babies, this may mean that they take in fewer of the nutrients needed for growth. It can also increase the risk of some health problems, such as eczema.

Another reason for waiting is that babies do not produce pancreatic amylase, one of the main starch-digesting enzymes, until they are four to six months old.

Wait to wean

A recently published study followed children from birth to age seven. It showed that babies who were not given solid food until 15 weeks had less 'wheeze' and respiratory illness at seven years than babies who had been started on solids before 15 weeks. So there's every reason to wait beyond four months before starting your baby on solids.

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding babies, without any formula milk or solid food, for six months. Be guided by your baby after four or five months, rather than going on exact age or weight. He or she will let you know when they are ready because they will:

• Still seem hungry, despite extra milk feeds;
• Reach out for food on your plate;
• Pick up small things and try to 'eat' them.

Introducing foods other than milk is a gradual process. It starts with smooth, runny purées and is complete when your baby has learned how to bite and chew, is using a cup and spoon, and cheerfully tucks away three meals a day with the rest of the family.

Please note: our information here is primarily intended for healthy babies who are growing appropriately and developing well. If your baby's growth is causing concern, then it may not apply. Do discuss your situation with your health visitor or another health professional.

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