Starting Solids

There is an excellent article by Adriano Cattaneo in Breastfeeding Review on infant/ child feeding – where, how, by whom and why. Ms. Cattaneo is attached to the unit for heal services research and international health of the Institute for Maternal and Child Health. Ms. Cattaneo makes some very important points:

  1. “We are mammals and thus we breastfeed.”

World Health Organization ( WHO) recommendations are to start as soon after birth as possible, breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months and continue with the addition of complementary foods for 2 years or beyond (See WHO recommendations here).

  1. “We are mammals and thus we wean.”

    Weaning is defined as the period between the first introduction of foods or fluid other than breastmilk and the last feed at the breast. Weaning is in part dependent on the availability of weaning foods.
  1. The timing of the introduction of complementary food is dependent on: a) the nutrient needs of the infant and, b) the ability of the infant to utilize these nutrients.

    Evolution and humans have made it so that these two conditions occur simultaneously – roughly at six months of age. Unless we were to test nutrient levels, hepatic and renal function we need to rely on observation of the infant to know when he or she is ready for their first weaning foods or fluids.
  1. The “window of development” that indicates a readiness for complementary foods includes: the ability to sit up unsupported; an infants’ interest in food – not just to play with; and the capacity to reach out, grab, put it in the mouth, chew and swallow safely.
  1. We learn by doing! Babies need to reach out for food, grab, take into their mouths, chew and swallow safely – this way they learn all the necessary skills!
  1. The nutrients needed by an exclusively breastfed baby are minerals (iron, zinc, iodine) and some vitamins. The first weaning foods should be meats, fish, eggs diary products, nuts and pulses (grain legumes).
  1. For greater acceptance start with those foods infants are already familiar with – the tastes and flavors of the foods you ate when they were in-utero and while you are breastfeeding.
  1. Healthy and safe family foods are more nutritious than industrial foods. Industrial foods do not contain the flavor range of family foods. Infants started on them have to learn the industrial foods and then make a transition to the flavors of home foods.
  1. Industry is business – they need to make money, they market wisely in order to stay in business.


 Patricia Berg-Drazin, RLC, IBCLC, CST has more than 20 years of experience as an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant and as a manual therapist. She is a Certified Craniosacral Therapist with credentials through the Upledger Institute with specific training in lymphatic drainage, visceral manipulation, and total body balancing. The combination of specialties provides her with a unique perspective and skill set. In addition, Ms. Berg-Drazin is on the faculty at National University of Health Sciences.  She is a reviewer for the Journal of Human Lactation and has published on nipple shields, nipple staph infections, and Galactosemia. She also lectures on structure and function and how they relate to breastfeeding. In addition, she is also a founding member of Breastfeed Chicago. For more lactation info, please refer to Patricia’s website:


Formatting edit 11/23/15. No content altered.

One thought on “Starting Solids

  1. Read the article and some of Cattaneo ideas really got me thinking. I don’t know if he is the author of the “window of development” but his presentation of this stage is brilliant.

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