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The Ministry of Health1 and Plunket2 recommend starting solids around 6 months of age. The World Health Organisation and UNICEF3 also recommend 6 months as the best starting age for solids.
Here are some reasons to back up why 6 months of age is the sweet spot for starting solids:
Your baby needs iron
Your baby is born with iron stores they received through you via the placenta when you were pregnant. At around 6 months, these iron stores start to deplete and need to be replenished. Until then, your baby is getting everything they need from breast milk or infant formula.
Your baby’s gut is ready
All babies’ digestive systems need to develop enough that they can handle solid food. Before 6 months, digestive systems may have not developed enough, and starting solids can result in baby not getting enough milk4 .
Your baby is ready
All babies are different and should be showing signs that they are ready to start solids – you can read more about these signs in our 5 tips for starting solids article.
Don’t be fooled by common myths that your baby is ready for solids. One of these myths is that once you start solids, your baby will sleep through the night5 . Sleeping through the night is often linked to development and learning how to self-settle, and may not be due to starting solids!
Another is that because your baby is watching you eat or reaching for your food, they are ready to start solids. Babies are naturally curious and interested in the world around them.
Make sure that your baby is displaying other signs of being ready to start solids before you take the plunge.