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The New Rules of Introducing Solids to Your Baby

Jeanine Henderson

When my son Jules was 5 1/2 months old, I visited a lactation consultant for help with a stressful milk-supply situation. “I'm pumping three times a day at work, and before bed, and I'm still not sure he's getting enough milk,” I told her. “How can I increase my supply?” Eager for a solution, I continued my barrage of questions. When I paused for a breath, she asked: “Have you tried introducing solids yet?” “Oh no, not yet,” I told her. “The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breast milk exclusively for the first 6 months, so I was waiting until then.” Exactly then. Obviously, I follow rules religiously. She commented that, at the time, the AAP recommended starting solids between 4 and 6 months. She helped me identify the signs that Jules might be ready for “real” food. Could he hold his head up and sit while supported? Yep. Did he seem to be interested in our food? Considering he'd swatted at the seaweed salad dangling from my chopsticks the night before, I'd say so. My pediatrician thought starting solids was a great plan. That night, we offered Jules pears, and he ate like a pro. I kept nursing and pumping, and combined with solids, the milk I was making was enough — just as nature planned. Disagreement within the AAP's committee on nutrition and breastfeeding fueled the dueling rules — introduce foods between 4 and 6 months and breastfeed exclusively for six. Since then, the AAP has settled on a unified message: Introduce solids between 4 and 6 months while continuing to nurse, avoiding formula if possible. Could it be that there were other infant-feeding revisions I'd overlooked? As it turns out, there are a number of baby food rules many moms take as gospel that now border on myths. Reconsider these, and you may just sidestep a slew of obstacles.