Re: Does breastmilk meet all nutritional needs during the first year?
My pediatrician told me that solids are just for fun during the first year- though she is a big believer in vitamin drops! My child barely ate solids until she was around 14-15 months old, and was always in the higher height and weight percentiles, so clearly malnutrition was never an issue for her. So that's one anecdotal report that more or less fits the bill, right?
Here's what the WHO says: "The transition from exclusive breastfeeding to family foods, referred to as complementary feeding, typically covers the period from 6 to 18-24 months of age, and is a very vulnerable period. It is the time when malnutrition starts in many infants, contributing significantly to the high prevalence of malnutrition in children under five years of age world-wide. WHO estimates that 2 out of 5 children are stunted in low-income countries."
So that sounds really bad, right? It implies that if you don't start complementary food at 6 months, you're going to get a malnourished child. But I think it's important to remember that the WHO writes for the global audience: IMO, whoever wrote the above quote was thinking not of the well-off, well-nourished people of the developed world, but of the poor and poorly-nourished people of the developing world- the ones who cannot offer their babies a variety of healthy and vitamin-fortified foods.
If you look more specifically at the advice given to families in the developed world, I do not think that you will find any reputable source that advocates delaying solids until 1 year. But you will find stuff like the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on breastfeeding, which says stuff like "Infants weaned before 12 months of age should not receive cow's milk but should receive iron-fortified infant formula", which is one way of saying that breastmilk or a breastmilk substitute should be the primary source of nutrition until 1 year, and "Complementary foods rich in iron should be introduced gradually beginning around 6 months of age", which implies that a baby does not need to be eating a lot of complementary foods in order to be fully nourished.
The AAP policy statement on dietary recommendations for children and adolescents says that "The period from weaning to consumption of a mature diet, from 4 to 6 months to ~2 years of age, represents a radical shift in pattern of food consumption... but there has been very little research on the best methods to achieve optimal nutritional intakes during this transition. Infants mature from receiving all nutrition from a milk-based diet to a diet chosen from the range of adult foods, in part self-selected and in part provided by caregivers. Transition to other sources of nutrients should begin at 4 to 6 months of age to ensure sufficient micronutrients in the diet, but the best methods for accomplishing this task are essentially unknown... Current feeding practices and guidelines are influenced by small-scale studies of infant feeding behavior, idiosyncratic parental behavior, and popular opinion."
None of that is quite what you're looking for... But I think it all implies what most moms already know instinctively- that starting at 6 months you offer your LO healthy foods, but you don't stress over it as long as the baby is healthy and growing and meeting milestones.
Last edited by @llli*mommal; June 16th, 2009 at 08:56 AM.
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