Q: What are the disadvantages/advantages of starting solid foods at four months, as opposed to six months? And why do some pediatricians recommend starting earlier, while others say to wait?
A: Feeding your baby is not a strict science. Different sources of advice—from caring Grandmothers to your best friend—may offer their “expertise,” but it is best to follow your pediatrician as your partner in this exciting adventure.
Although strong family histories of allergies may be a factor in delaying introduction of solid foods until after six months of age, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, in order to meet the nutritional needs of your growing child, that solid foods be added to the diet “between four and six months of age.”
This is when the fun begins and all the bibs received as gifts are pulled off the shelf. Generally, whether or not you start with yellow or green vegetables, I recommend introducing—beginning with the smallest amount—each new food for at least three days. By that time, you will know whether your baby accepts (enjoys) or rejects (intolerant, allergic, or just doesn’t like it!) that particular food. Before combining, make sure that each fare successfully passes the “three day test.”
A number of tips:
- Human milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants. There is scientific evidence that breast milk provides advantages with regard to general health, growth, and development, increases protection against infections, and allows Mom and baby a unique bonding experience. Although recommended for at least twelve months, breastfeeding your baby for three-to-six months will be beneficial.
Dietary Restrictions & Supplements:
- Although incredibly fortified and balanced, human milk does not contain enough vitamin D—therefore all breastfed babies should be given vitamin D supplements, beginning within the first two months of life.
- I am not (nor is the American Academy of Pediatrics) suggesting routine multivitamin usage for children. Although normal, healthy children receiving a normal diet do not need vitamins, recent studies on vitamin D and calcium requirements suggest that beginning during preteen years, supplementing daily with vitamin D, Calcium, and Magnesium is beneficial.
- Fat intake should not be restricted in children younger than age two years; after, saturated fats, cholesterol and salts should be monitored and restricted.
Read the April Ask Dr. Rubin column
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