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Breast-Feeding - Feeding Patterns

When to start supplements or other food

Feeding your baby will change through the first year. When your baby reaches 6 months of age, you can start adding other foods besides breast milk. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breast-feeding babies for at least the first year and giving only breast milk for the first 6 months.6

Doctors usually recommend against supplementing a breast-fed baby's diet with formula, food, or water during the first 6 months, even during a growth spurt. Supplementing can decrease your milk production. Early bottle feedings can also make it harder for your baby to latch on to your breast.

Although breast-fed babies get the best possible nutrition, they will probably need certain vitamin or nutritional supplements (especially iron) to maintain or improve their health. Talk with your doctor about how much and what sources of supplements are right for your child. Vitamin D for babies is usually a liquid supplement that you add to a bottle of breast milk with a dropper or drip into your baby's mouth.

Signs of weaning

It's best for you and your baby if you breast-feed for a full year. If you keep breast-feeding beyond 1 year, your baby will continue to benefit. After the first year, look for signs that your baby is ready to wean, such as refusing to breast-feed or showing interest in drinking from a cup. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about weaning.

Whenever you decide to wean, keep in mind that suddenly stopping breast-feeding may be harder for both you and your baby than a gradual decrease in feeding frequency.

To learn more about weaning, see the topic Weaning.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 01, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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