Advice Column, Baby, Breastfeeding, Pregnancy & Baby

When To Consider Introducing Complimentary Feeding

  • Breastpumps and Beyond
  • Category Advice Column, Baby, Breastfeeding, Pregnancy & Baby

Complimentary feeding is a process in which you begin to introduce other food substances apart from breastmilk into your child’s diet. There are many benefits to this practice. However, more importantly, this practice is essential for the health of your baby. 

Complimentary feeding is essential for nutritional intake for your baby. Within this article, we shall be discussing the points stipulated by WHO (the world health organisation) surrounding the importance of complimentary feeding.

Why Complimentary Feeding Is A Good Practice

Complimentary feeding is an incredibly important practice for your baby. Complimentary feeding, in a nutshell, describes a co-existent feeding pattern in which you feed your baby both solids as well as breast milk. As WHO suggests, it is encouraged to breastfeed for the first 1000 days of your child’s life, up until the age of 2. 

Breastfeeding has a number of incredible benefits for a bay’s development, as well as strong antibodies to help them build immunities against certain diseases. 

However, there comes a time when breastmilk will need a little bit of help within the nourishing department. Read on below to see why complimentary feeding is such an important practice.

Nutritional intake

As suggested by the WHO, children will begin to need other nutrition in their diets from roughly six months old. Breastmilk will sustain your child fully up until this point. It has been reported – particularly within third world countries such as South Africa – that two out of five children up until the age of five are malnourished. These are some scary statistics! This can be attribute to the fact that these children have not been exposed to a balanced diet.

However, these statistics don’t necessarily only ring true to the poor. All children stand a chance to fall into this trap, should their parents be unaware of the importance of complimentary feeding. Complimentary feeding will introduce a variety of new, needed nutrients into your child’s diet, helping their growing body get everything it needs to support development.

The Dangers Of Malnutrition

Scarier yet is what occurs should children not receive adequate nutrition. Malnutrition results in a syndrome known at stunting. Stunting, or stunted growth, refers to impaired growth and development for a child’s body. Stunted children are generally two standard deviations shorter than what a child’s height should be at that age. 

Furthermore, stunting can affect children in other areas; not only their height. Take a look at some of the other side effects of stunting:

  • Poor cognition
  • Poor educational development and performance
  • Poor productivity
  • An increased risk of chronic health complications later in life, should the child become over weight

As you can see, the dangers of malnutrition are really something which need to be taken seriously. Scarier yet is that stunting cannot be reversed. As suggested by WHO, the first 1000 days of your child’s life are essential for building a healthy human being later on. therefore, practicing healthy eating habits is crucial during this time.

Intestinal Development

Above the nutritional benefits of complimentary feeding, there is also a developmental benefit to it. At some point or another, your baby’s gut will need to begin processing harder foods than breastmilk. 

Complimentary feeding allows your child’s tummy become accustomed to different food sources, whilst still being able to easily digest breastmilk. 

This eases your baby’s intestinal development by allowing them to slowly become accustomed to the new food stuffs being introduced to their diet. We will discuss the frequency which one should practice complimentary feeding below now.

When To Start Practicing Complimentary Feeding

As previously mentioned, complimentary feeding should be introduced after the six month mark. It should then be continued up until 24 months. If you are wondering about the frequency of this practice, just read on below now.

According to WHO, you should practice complimentary feeding as per this tables suggestions:

Baby’s Age Daily Complimentary Feeds Other Solid Food Sources
6 – 8 months 2 – 3 daily feeds /
9 – 11 months 3 – 4 daily feeds /
12 – 24 months 3 – 4 daily feeds 2 daily snacks


Once your baby reaches two years old, you should consider weaning them from breastmilk. This is the time when you will begin to develop their solid diet fully.

Important Things To Remember About Complimentary Feeding

There are a few key things to remember when beginning complimentary feeding. 

Appropriate Foods

Ensure that the foods you begin to introduce to your baby’s diet are appropriate from that stage of their lives. By this we mean both nutritionally and texturally. For lack of a better example, feeding your six month old baby a steak smothered in rich sauces would not work at all. 

Try preparing the solids yourself, starting with simple steamed vegetables such as pumpkin, which you can then pulse into a baby food consistency.

Be Observant About What Your Baby Eats

There are many additives in today’s products. Be sure that your baby is receiving safe produce when you begin to introduce them to solids. As mentioned above, the best way to do this is by preparing their first few meals yourself. You will then be able to monitor exactly what goes into your baby’s meal, and as a result, into your baby. 

About the author

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.