Breastmilk is universally acknowledged as complete food for infants. Somewhere down the line, naturally, babies need nutritional supplementation from solid food. This is because a baby's store of nutrients starts getting depleted at around six months, and that needs to be replaced if they are to grow healthy.

The prevailing wisdom passed on to new mothers is that children are ready for solids six months after birth. While this is currently the standard, you may want to find out if this window of time keeps pace with that of your baby's own unique progress. Here are two important questions you need to consider.

Does your child consume enough breastmilk (or formula)?

The World Health Organization, and other leading health agencies around the world, suggests that infants need to be exclusively breastfed (or formula-fed, if the circumstances require it) for up to six months. Breastmilk or formula should then remain the baby's main source of nutrition for the first year after birth. 

This is recommended for several reasons, the most important of which are protection from infection and prevention of allergy.

A mother's milk contains important nutrients not only crucial for the baby's growth but also for its protection from infection: This is why exclusive breastfeeding or bottle-nursing (no other liquids, not even water) is strongly advised for the first six months. Immunoglobulin A (IgA), responsible for coating the baby's immature intestines to prevent germs from leaking through, is found in abundance in a mother's milk. This coating also creates a barrier against molecules of foreign food so they don't get into the bloodstream and trigger an allergic reaction before the baby's own anti-allergic mechanism sets in.

Babies who have had too little mother's milk have been known to suffer from gastrointestinal and respiratory infection while those that have been sufficiently breastfed tend to ward off diseases better.

Is your child developmentally ready?

Ingesting and digesting solid food require autonomic bodily processes that a baby younger than a certain age may not have developed yet. At six months, or around six months, the baby's digestive system is able to process food more than just their mother's milk. This is also the age when babies no longer have the tongue-extrusion reflex wherein they put their tongues out when something is put into their mouths. As solid food needs to be chewed, the absence of this reflex means that they can now be fed with something more than mother's milk.

Developmental readiness also manifests in the infant's ability to sit upright, with their heads and trunks stable. They should also be able to reach for their own food and bring that food into their mouths. This motor ability also sets them up for eventual independence to that time when they can feed themselves with adult supervision.