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When it comes to baby feeding, there’s a big difference between birth and six months. Although milk still needs to be the primary source of nutrition, solid foods also become an important supply of nutrients. Milk alone just isn’t enough to fuel growth by this age and stage.
Breast milk is the ideal food when it comes to infant feeding, but by six months of age iron stores which had built up in the baby’s body during pregnancy have depleted. Breast milk is low in iron so it’s important to boost your six month old’s intake of iron from solid foods. Zinc too is an essential mineral which can only come from solid foods.
The current recommendation from health care professionals is to offer solid foods at around six months. Some babies are ready before then but it’s important to always speak and check with a qualified nurse or healthcare professional first, as it may not be beneficial for your baby and it could also decrease breast milk supply for mothers who are breastfeeding.
By six months old babies have a growing sense of the world around them. They are becoming increasingly social and learning how to communicate with babbling and cooing. These early attempts at communication reflect the interaction they’re gaining from other people around them, as well as their own capacity for social engagement.
Food and eating forms an important part of your six month old baby’s connection with other people. It’s so valuable to include your six month old baby in mealtimes and not separate them from the incidental conversations which happen when people gather and eat.
Breastfed babies at six months still need at least 5-6 feeds per day. They are still too young to sleep without waking through the night and need to be breastfed at least once. Offer both breasts when you feed your baby, this will help to support longer sleeps and less “snacking and napping” behaviour.
Sometimes your baby will be interested in solid foods and not as keen at other times. Hunger and curiosity will influence their motivation to eat.
Some six month old babies are so keen to eat their solid food that they don’t want to breastfeed. It’s also normal for six month old babies to be distractible when they’re breastfeeding. You may want to find a quiet place to feed them so they can stay focused.
Be mindful of not offering your baby too much solid food. Remember, their primary source of nutrition still needs to be milk and at six months it’s the taste and opportunity to eat which is important.
Expect your baby to spit out a fair amount. Learning how to eat solid foods is like any other skill. It takes time and lots of practice to become competent.
Mess is normal. Reaching for the spoon, smearing puree over their face, and rubbing food into their eyes are all to be expected when feeding a six month old.
Your baby may want less formula until they become used to having solids as well. At six months their stomach is still only small and it doesn’t take much food/formula for them to feel full. Always follow the instructions and preparations on formula tins labels suitable for your baby's age.
Offer your baby their formula first and solids after. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations on the formula tin to see if your baby needs a “follow-on” formula which is more suitable for babies aged over six months.
The current recommendation from nutritionist is that foods can be introduced in any order as long as what’s offered is nutritious, mashed, and the right texture.
Remember, eating solids is a developing skill for your baby. Be patient as they learn to accept new tastes and textures.
Always speak and check with a qualified nurse or healthcare professional for advice and guidance on your six month old baby’s individual feeding needs. Offering a good variety of foods is an important first step to help your baby anticipate flavours and tastes.
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For mums who are able to, breastfeeding is best for babies. It delivers many benefits for both mum and baby. Breastmilk contains all the nutrients your growing bub needs to thrive, especially in the first 6 months of life, plus antibodies to help them fight infections.
It’s important for pregnant and breastfeeding mums to maintain good nutrition. Deciding to use a combination of breast and bottle-feeding for an extended period may reduce your own breast milk supply, and reversing your decision may be difficult.
When using infant formula, follow the feeding guide and preparation directions carefully. Improper use or incorrect preparation of infant formula can make your baby ill.
Consult your doctor or health care professional for advice prior to using the formula to feed your baby. You should also consider the social and financial implications before deciding to use infant formula.
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