WHAT ARE THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS GUIDELINES ON INTRODUCTION OF SOLID FOODS?
AAP SOLID FOOD GUIDELINES
Below are the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) guidelines to starting solid foods. This website is based off the AAP solid food guidelines which currently recommend the introduction of solid foods at 6 months of age and up. Many sources of literature suggest that foods can be started at four months of age, and even many stores market food for this age group. From a health standpoint, there is a great amount of evidence suggesting that foods only be started at 6 months of age and up. Not only does the following AAP recommendation have information for parents, but it also contains information for providers. This information is helpful for parents to read as well because it helps to answer some of the most common questions asked about this topic in a clinical setting.
AAP SOLID FOOD GUIDELINES: Evidence
- A substantial number of families introduce complementary solid foods around 3-4 months, especially if the infant is perceived as fussy.
- Formula fed infants are at more risk for early introduction of solids.
- Introduction to solids prior to 4 months is associated with increased weight gain and adiposity, both in infancy and early childhood.
- Research indicates that it is important to expose children to a wide variety of flavors and textures.
- Many babies and toddlers need to be exposed to foods multiple times before accepting them.
- Babies and toddlers are more likely to eat foods they see their peers and parents eating.
AAP SOLID FOOD GUIDELINES: Parent Feedback
- Other family members and friends were influencers and provided false evidence that introducing solids helped calm fussy babies.
- Parental frustration and desire for happy babies were big motivators to introduce solids.
- Parents cited the concern about wasting food.
- Many parents assumed once their child rejected a food that it meant their child did not like that food.
- Concept of offering a food 10-15 times before acceptance was confusing.
- AAP SOLID FOOD GUIDELINES: Opportunities for Care
- If parent reports fussiness and/or sleeping problems, counsel about the importance of appropriate complimentary food introduction. Share potential calming and soothing strategies for infants, as well as coping strategies for parents.
- Encourage parents to wait until around 6 months to introduce solids.
- Remind parents that this is a very important time and the kinds of foods your baby eats now help him to enjoy healthy foods later.
- Counsel about the importance of introducing a wide variety of foods, especially vegetables and fruits. As the infant grows, it is important to expose the baby to variety of textures.
- Explain that sometimes it takes a baby 10-15 tries over time before they will actually accept a new food.
- Explain that this 10-15 tries is over a period of months and to not get discouraged.
- To address concerns about waste, discuss strategies that limit wasted food, such as not feeding directly from a jar but removing a small serving from a jar to a different container.
- You can reassure parents that it is okay if the infant doesn’t like something the first time, and it is important to keep offering it.
Introducing your baby to new foods can be both fun and frustrating. Some parents worry about wasting food and money if their babies don’t like a lot of foods at first. Good news: a new eater only needs 1-2 tablespoons of each food and will gradually increase to 3-4 tablespoons as she gets older. By getting your baby used to lots of different foods, you’ll help him build a healthy diet for life.