The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continuation after complementary foods have been introduced for at least the first year of life and beyond, as long as mutually desired by mother and child.
Complementary foods can be introduced at about six months of age. To provide the most adequate nutrition, continue to feed your baby breast milk or iron-fortified formula while introducing complementary foods. Each baby’s readiness for food depends on their rate of development, but general signs are:
- They have the strength and stability to sit upright with little or no support.
- They have oral motor skills to handle non-liquid foods.
- They show interest in food by bringing objects to her mouth.
- They can grasp objects to support self-feeding.
- Introduce one “single ingredient” new food at a time.
- Offer a variety of different foods. It may take multiple attempts for your baby to accept a new food.
- Use a baby-size spoon to feed your baby. Do not use the microwave to heat up your baby’s food as it can become too hot.
- Do not give your baby fruit juice in a bottle or put your baby to bed with a bottle as it may cause tooth decay.
Introducing First Foods
Since iron and zinc are micronutrients that become limiting for primarily breastfed infants, the AAP recommends iron- and zinc-fortified infant cereals and meats as best first food choices to introduce; they have been found to be equally well accepted by infants.
- Feed only baby cereals, not adult cereals.
- Use only single-ingredient cereals such as rice, barley or oatmeal. Wait 3-5 days before introducing another cereal to watch for signs of a potential allergic reaction.
- Meats should be pureed; otherwise, commercially canned jars of pureed meat can be used.
- Be patient. Your baby may refuse to eat cereals or meats at first because she needs to learn to swallow solids. Wait a few days and try again.
Introducing Fruits and Vegetables
- Introduce only one new strained fruit or vegetable at a time. Wait 3-5 days to watch for any reaction.
- Offer small amounts of strained fruits or vegetables each day. Work up to 2-3 Tbsp. of either food.
- Limit your baby to 4-6 ounces of 100% fruit juice a day.
Ref: AAP, Committee on Nutrition/ Pediatric Nutrition Handbook. Kleinman, RE, Greer FR, eds. 7th ed. Elk Grove Village IL: American Academy of Pediatrics, 2013.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Pediatric Nutrition Care Manual.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Starting Solid Foods. Elk Grove Village IL: AAP; 2008, updated 2012.