3 Common Questions About Complementary Feeding

April 21, 2021
Many parents have questions about complementary feeding. Today we'll look at those questions as well as the benefits of this process.

Complementary feeding usually begins when the baby is 6 months old, but a lot of people have doubts about it. Using this method correctly can help with your child’s development, and can help them avoid health problems in the future. Today, we’ll take a look at some common questions about complementary feeding that parents have.

Since this method can be so beneficial for your child, we recommend talking to a specialist before introducing solid foods into your baby’s diet. It’s essential that they’re getting the right nutrients as they’re beginning to eat different foods.

Common questions about complementary feeding

Next, we’ll talk about the common questions that arise when talking about complementary feeding. In addition, we’ll discuss what science has to say about it.

3 Common Questions About Complementary Feeding

Can I let my child feed themself?

In the past, complementary feeding required a lot of supervision and care. Parents gave their babies highly processed foods so they wouldn’t have any difficulty chewing or handling it. However, that process has changed.

The most recent trend is called Baby Led Weaning and consists of offering your child the food in its most natural state. Then, your child has the opportunity to explore it and try to eat it. According to a study published in the Italian Journal of Pediatrics, children are more likely to accept the organoleptic characteristics of their foods using this method. As a result, they end up rejecting fewer foods later in life.

However, it’s still very important to watch your child while they’re eating. You shouldn’t give them any portions that could cause them to choke and you should supervise them the entire time. 

Is it time to quit breastfeeding?

For many mothers, breastfeeding is uncomfortable because they experience sore or cracked nipples. However, breastfeeding has been proven to be the healthiest option for both mothers and their children.

Therefore, we recommend that you continue to breastfeed until the baby reaches one year old. From there, you can substitute baby formula as long as it meets your baby’s nutritional needs.

Until that time, it’s best to prioritize breastfeeding and to avoid artificial formulas. Even though some are well formulated, they can never do what breast milk does. Breast milk is still the best option for babies during that stage. That’s because it helps with proper development and reduces the risk of chronic pathologies. 

Can I give them any food?

Usually, during the first months of your baby’s life, your pediatrician will give you a document that lists the appropriate time to introduce each food into your child’s diet. Remember, up until six months, the only feeding method that you should be using is breastfeeding. 

After that time, you can start to include other foods, even solid ones. However, you shouldn’t add them all at the same time. First, you have to start with those that have a lower risk of causing autoimmune reactions. Then, you can gradually increase the spectrum. 

In addition, there are certain foods, like nuts, that are difficult for babies to handle. They need to have developed teeth and the ability to swallow before eating them. Otherwise, they may choke on them.

Therefore, it’s very important to follow your specialist’s guidelines. Including food too early could cause a future intolerance or a bigger problem. 

3 Common Questions About Complementary Feeding

Complementary feeding, a critical moment in a child’s life

The moment that you introduce complementary feeding into your child’s life is critical. That’s because it represents an important transition at the dietary level. For that reason, it’s very important that you put this change into motion correctly so that it can have a positive impact on your baby. Unfortunately, doing it incorrectly will cause damage in the medium and long term.

Because of that, we recommend that you always follow a specialist’s guidelines, especially if you’re a new parent. By doing so, you’ll be reducing any risks and you’ll increase the chances that your child will grow up healthy. 

Lastly, don’t forget that the complementary feeding process plays a role in your child’s understanding of nutrition. This step is key to ensure that they’ll follow a good diet throughout childhood and adolescence, which will positively impact their health.

 

  • D’Auria E, Bergamini M, Staiano A, Banderali G, Pendezza E, Penagini F, Zuccotti GV, Peroni DG; Italian Society of Pediatrics. Baby-led weaning: what a systematic review of the literature adds on. Ital J Pediatr. 2018 May 3;44(1):49. doi: 10.1186/s13052-018-0487-8. PMID: 29724233; PMCID: PMC5934812.
  • Brown A. Breastfeeding as a public health responsibility: a review of the evidence. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2017 Dec;30(6):759-770. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12496. Epub 2017 Jul 26. PMID: 28744924.