When do I start my baby on solid foods?  This is the million-dollar question, and it doesn’t have a really hard-and-fast answer.

When I was a brand-new-and-clueless mum, I had read all the books and was trying to do things “right.” I breast-fed and angsted over when to start my daughter on solids. According to the doctors who get paid the big bucks to tell us the right ways to do things, solids should be started when your baby has doubled her birth weight, can hold her head upright, and begins showing interest in other foods and can regulate her feeding by turning away from the breast or bottle when she’s no longer hungry. They also bandy around the number of four months as the minimum age. Breast-feeding purists argue that a baby needs to only have breast milk (as in NO juice, foods, or even water) for the first six months at least. Then you have the organic, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-slings mommies who say, whatever seems best, do it. Want your baby to sleep better through the night? Give ’em some rice cereal in their bottle. The war is on between these three factions, but it’s all in the interests of what’s best for a baby–the problem is, what’s best for Baby Peter might not necessarily be best for Baby Paul. Or Baby Rajesh or Baby Maria or Baby Xiao…you know what I mean.

So, when do I start my baby on solid foods? Basically, go with your gut and on your doctor’s recommendations. If you are a hardline breast-feeding advocate, it will not harm your baby to only have breast milk for the first six months of his life. Goodness knows, babies could do worse than breast milk! But also, don’t flog yourself if you decide to start giving Baby something solid before that six month limit, as long as it’s something in line with medical recommendations and age-appropriate.

The first solids to start babies out on are cereals, such as rice, which is the best non-allergenic cereal. Mix it with breast milk, formula, or distilled water. Then slowly move into fruits and veggies, pastas and meats and dairies. Offer new things in small doses and keep trying if they happen to reject something the first time, because babies need some time to really try things out. Make sure you always offer plenty of breast milk or the kind of formula your baby is accustomed to. Until they are completely weaned they will get most of their nutrition from liquids.