Breastfeeding has many benefits for infants and mothers and is recommended
as the best source of nutrition for babies until they are ready for other
foods. Breastfeeding should usually continue for at least 12 months. There
are some special cases when breastfeeding should not be done, such as when
a mother has human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
As infants grow, they need solid foods in addition to breast milk or
formula. Babies need food that is specially formulated for them, both in texture
and in nutritional value. Infants' digestive systems are not mature enough
to handle the types of foods that adults eat.
The October 1, 2003, issue of JAMA includes
several articles about feeding infants.
Cow's milk-based formula
Infants younger than 12 months should not be given cow's milk. Fruit
juices should not be given before 6 months of age. Infants receiving breast
milk or formula do not need additional water.
Around 4 to 6 months of age, babies are usually ready to eat solid food
in addition to breast milk or formula. Each infant is different and should
be given solid foods at his or her own pace. Most commonly, cereals made of
rice, wheat, oat, or barley are given in small amounts and introduced one
at a time. These cereals are mixed with breast milk or formula. Babies should
not be given adult foods from the table. Infants then progress from cereals
to infant foods. Usually these foods are bland (not spicy), are not greasy,
are pureed (whipped to a thick texture), and are
easy to digest. Supplements such as vitamin D and iron may be recommended
for some babies by their doctor.
Because every baby is different, it is important to watch your infant's
behavior during feeding as he or she approaches 4 to 6 months of age. Babies
who are ready for solid food often nurse more often, show interest in adult
feeding, and are able to sit up and keep food in their mouth without pushing
it completely out with their tongue.
American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.aap.org
American Academy of Family Physicians http://www.aafp.org
La Leche League 800/525-3243 http://www.lalecheleague.org
To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page
link on JAMA's Web site at http://www.jama.com. Many are available in English and Spanish. A Patient Page on lactation
mastitis was published in the April 2, 2003, issue, and one on breastfeeding
was published in the January 24/31, 2001, issue.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family
Physicians, La Leche League, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate
in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For
specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied
noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share
with patients. Any other print or online reproduction is subject to AMA approval.
To purchase bulk reprints, call 718/946-7424.
TOPIC:INFANT AND CHILD HEALTH
Torpy JM, Lynm C, Glass RM. Infant Feeding. JAMA. 2003;290(13):1808. doi:10.1001/jama.290.13.1702