by Holly Lucard, IBCLC
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. The AAP also suggests a gradual introduction of solids in the second half of the first year, which should complement the breastmilk diet.
Human Milk Is Baby’s Primary Nutrition
In my nineteen years of counseling breastfeeding mothers, I have received numerous calls from women who fear their babies are losing interest in breastfeeding and that they are losing their milk. The culprit in almost all of these cases? Solids! It is important to remember that human milk is the primary source of nutrition for your baby for the first year of his life. Breastmilk provides 100% of a baby’s nutritional needs for the first six months of life, and 75% for the second six months.
To ensure that your baby won’t wean before both you and she are ready, there are two important things to do when adding solid food to her diet.
1. For the first year, nurse immediately before giving solids. Don’t offer meals between or before
breastfeeding. Giving solids between feedings will stretch out the time between nursings,
causing a decrease in your milk supply. Remember, the more you nurse, the more milk
you make. If you feed solids before nursing, your baby will likely become too full and won’t be
interested in breastfeeding.
2. Don’t rush into giving three meals a day. Start slowly with one meal a day, adding a second meal
in a few months, and the third a few months after that. Your baby may not be on three meals a day
until she is a year old. Gradually during your baby’s second year, the amount of solids your
baby eats will increase to become a major part of her diet. Keep in mind that your
baby will have a lifetime for eating solid food, but breastmilk is only available in the early years.