BreastfeedingOne of the hottest topics of debate in the breastfeeding community over the last decade has been about when to introduce solid foods. The old-favorite suggestion was to breastfeed for four to six months before introducing solids, one at a time, to move baby to a more whole diet of food and breast milk. In 2001 the World HealthOrganization (WHO) openly supported a change to that suggestion. According to WHO, solid foods should be introduced after six months of age. Soon the United Kingdom picked up on the suggestion and started supporting the change as well. Some 10 years later, researchers claimed waiting until six months to introduce solid foods to breastfed babies was too long and could lead to health issues. So, what is a mom to do when she needs guidance about when to introduce solid foods to breastfeeding babies?

The Facts
Breastfeeding provides all the nutrients, calories, fat, protein and vitamins a growing infant needs. Breastfeeding is the best sole means of nutrition for young babies, but as babies grow so do those nutritional needs. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should be exclusively breastfed for about six months, but the word about still leaves open the concept of introducing solid food earlier. Before introducing solid foods your baby:

  • Should weigh about 13 pounds (or double the average birth weight of a full-term singlet). 
  • Should be able to sit upright and hold the head up without assistance. 

What Foods are Best Introduced First?
Like any other commercial market, there are hundreds of choices in the baby food aisle, but only a select few are right for baby’s first food. Cereals that are easy to digest like rice cereals are the best first food. Rice cereals are single-grained and easy to digest. Introducing single-ingredient cereals without any added ingredients like sugar or flavoring is best. Next, move on to simple vegetables and fruits. 

Breastfeeding is a gift from Mother Nature that allows new mothers to sustain and grow their babies for at least six months. Even after introducing solid foods, breastfeeding should continue until baby reaches one year. At that point, mom and infant can choose the best future path. Some moms choose to continue breastfeeding and others choose to wean baby from the breast, but continue pumping breast milk for the next six months to one year.