Food before One, Is it just for Fun?

Quick Answer = No!

But why?

Whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding baby, six months is considered the furthest, safest point that little ones can grow and develop appropriately without starting solids.

The WHO and FSAI recommend that baby start solids at around 6 months. If starting solid food was not important until their first birthday, then the recommendations would be no solids before a child is 1 year old.

The reasons:

1. From 6 months the stores of Iron that we were born with are starting to deplete. Iron is very important for baby to make healthy blood and promote brain development. Iron rich foods ((red meats, lentils, green veg) help prevent Iron deficiency anemia. Milk (even breast milk) is not naturally a good source of Iron.

2. 6-12 months is considered the ‘feeding window’. It is an important time to introduce a variety of new foods. Between 6-12 months you can develop your baby’s taste buds to like the foods, tastes and flavours that you want them to like.

3. Having baby established on different textures by 9/10 months helps develop oral motor skills. It is really important in preventing oral aversion to lumps and helping to prevent picky eating. Finger foods in the first year develop hand eye coordination and encourage self feeding.

4. 7-9 months old is considered the critical time when baby needs to learn to like vegetables. All babies have a sweet tooth and love fruit for this reason. Vegetables should be introduced early (ideally as one of their first taste) and given regularly so your baby develops a taste for them. You’ll find more on vegetable first weaning here.

5. Other nutrients that start to deplete from 6 months are Selenium, Zinc and other minerals. A varied balanced diet helps to provide these.

6. Solids are more energy dense and help meet your baby’s increasing nutritional needs for macronutrients (Carbohydrate, Fat and Protein).

7. Solids helps stretch your baby’s stomach so that they can take in the nutrients that they need to keep growing and developing appropriately.

And last but not least –

We expect your baby to start to refuse some foods from about 12/18months. They become more aware and wary of the world around them. They like to stick with what they know is safe and are familiar with.

Ideally by 12 months you will have set the foundations of your baby’s eating habits, eating family meals and their relationship with food.

Food before 1 is not just for fun, it is an important time for learning – for parent and baby!

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