Before starting solids, make sure you are up on the latest and greatest research so that you can feed your baby with confidence.
1. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated its policy statement on the role of complementary foods in preventing food allergies.
–For infants with a strong family history for food allergies exclusive breastfeeding for 4 months decreases the risk of atopic dermatitis (eczema) and cow milk allergy. Exclusive breastfeeding for at least 3 months protects against wheezing in early life.
–There is little evidence that starting solids at a later time (beyond 4-6 months) helps to prevent food allergies – and that includes highly allergenic foods. If your baby is at increased risk for food allergies, work with your pediatrician on food introduction.
–When feeding your child a food for the first time, wait 2-3 days before introducing another food to check for adverse reactions such as vomiting, diarrhea, breathing problems or a rash. You’ll also want to introduce the new food earlier in the day when you have time to check reactions. Highly allergenic foods include egg whites, milk, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish and citrus.
2. There is no evidence to support a specific sequence for introducing food with infant feeding (e.g., veggies before fruit). It’s more important to start with foods that provide key nutrients needed very early in life.
–For breastfed babies iron, zinc and vitamin D are especially important because breast milk contains small amounts of these nutrients. Around 6 months, baby’s iron and zinc stores become depleted – and vitamin D supplementation is needed as long as you breastfeed.
–Iron fortified cereal, meats (a highly absorbable source of iron and zinc) and vitamin-C rich fruits and veggies are considered optimal early foods to help meet baby’s needs. In the Raise Healthy Eaters’ Infant Feeding Fuide, foods are advanced based on ease of digestion, baby’s nutrient needs and spacing of highly allergenic foods.
3. There are certain foods that need to be avoided the first year of life
–No honey or corn syrup the first year because they may contain botulism spores.
–Avoid whole milk until baby is a year as it contains no iron. Once children are a year old they should be eating plenty of solids foods containing iron.
–Avoid foods that increase the risk of choking including hot dogs, nuts and seeds, chunks of meat or cheese, whole grapes, pop corn, chunks of peanut butter, raw vegetables, fruit chunks, chewing gum or hard candy. Always supervise baby during meals!
4. There has been some controversy on the optimal timing of starting solids (4 or 6 months).
–The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization all recommend that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life.
–The gastrointestinal (GI) system is ready for solids foods around 4-6 months of age. Some concerns for infant feeding too early include increased risk of GI-related infections and choking.
–Work with your pediatrician on the right time to start solids.
5. How you feed your baby is as important as what you feed them.
–Develop a healthy feeding relationship with your baby by making eye contact, feeding directly and encouraging eating without forcing.
–Be sensitive to baby’s satiety cues – when he or she wants more or has had enough, follow their lead.
–Make baby feeding a fun and enjoyable experience.
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Next page: Birth to 4 Months: Breast Milk or Formula
For References go to the 10-12 month page