The Australian recommendations in the current (December 2012) Australian Infant Feeding
Guidelines2 are to introduce solids at around 6 months of age.
An Infant Feeding Summit hosted by the Centre for Food and Allergy Research was held in May 2016. A consensus agreement, supported by published evidence, was accepted at this Summit and the following recommendations were:
NOTE CHANGE TO ALLERGIES AND WEANING
When your infant is ready, at around 6 months, but not before 4 months, start to introduce a variety of solid foods, starting with iron rich foods, while continuing breastfeeding.
All infants should be given allergenic solid foods including peanut butter, cooked egg and dairy and wheat products in the first year of life. This includes infants at high risk of allergy. Hydrolysed (partially and extensively) infant formula is not recommended for prevention of allergic disease.
Guidelines with ages can only ever be approximate as babies develop at different rates.
When your baby is ready for solids, he will show signs of readiness, which is a better guide for an individual baby – he will show a great interest in what you are eating, perhaps try to grab your food; he will have lost the tongue-thrust reflex that pushes food back out of the mouth; and he will be able to sit upright. These tend to occur at around 6 months of age, with some a little earlier and others a little later.
It is now recommended that once solids are introduced, a variety of foods should be given and the type and order do not matter. Research suggests that introducing the most allergenic foods (as mentioned above) by about 10–12 months of age is associated with a reduced risk of allergy developing. A gap of 2–3 days between each new food should be enough, in case there is some reaction.
Regardless of the age your baby starts solids, it is recommended that breastfeeding continue during the process of introducing new foods.
Breastmilk is the normal food for all babies and is even more important for a baby with symptoms of reflux. It is easy to digest and contains everything he needs for his normal development. It helps protect him. Although babies usually ‘grow out’ of reflux, it can be a very difficult and tiring time for parents.
REFLUX AND SOME ADVICE FOR BABIES LESS THAN 5 MONTHS Gastro-oesophageal Reflux and the Breastfed Baby (A.B.A)
First published 2000 Revised 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011
Breastfeeding: and reflux
Sometimes Milk Thickeners are added to milk because it is believed that the feed becomes heavier and will tend to stay in the stomach and not rise into the oesophagus. However, they do not ‘cure’ reflux and may cause other problems. There is no evidence that thickeners are helpful for breastmilk-fed babies.
Thickeners don’t change the number of times a baby’s stomach contents rise into the oesophagus, but they can reduce the number of times the baby vomits.
When babies are healthy and growing well, in spite of vomiting, thickeners are not recommended. These products are mainly used for babies being fed formula, which can be thickened more easily. They are used when babies are vomiting so much they are not gaining weight.
You cannot thicken breastmilk that your baby drinks straight from the breast. It is also hard to thicken expressed breastmilk, as live enzymes in the milk quickly break down the starches that make up many thickeners. Mothers have tried different ways to thicken their expressed breastmilk or have given a small amount of thickener mixed with water to the baby before breastfeeding.
Thickeners include commercial milk thickeners, rice cereal, ‘cornflour’ (which can be made from wheat or corn) and bean gum. The thickened milk can be given by cup, spoon or bottle. With a bottle, a larger hole in the teat is needed to allow for the thicker milk. Adding solids to the baby’s diet to increase the thickness of stomach contents has also been tried. All these things carry risks and should not be tried except under the care of a health professional.
AFTER 5 MONTHS…
Solids If your baby is having solid foods, try not to over-feed him. Avoid spicy and acidic foods or any food that seems to worsen the reflux. Begin one food at a time and wait a few days or more before starting something different. This may help you find out if any food makes the reflux worse.