Complementary feeding

The transition from a milk-only (breast or artificial) based diet to a varied diet is a unique moment in the baby´s development. During this transition phase, the foundations for healthy eating habits into adulthood are established.

At around 6 months, nutritional requirements change and exclusive breastfeeding fails to cover them all, so the gradual introduction of other foods is required. The initiation of complementary feeding may be brought forward to 4 months, especially if the child is receiving formula milk, but never before, as the baby won´t be mature enough.

There are certain periods in the baby´s maturation that need to be respected to promote normal development and a positive attitude to healthy food: the baby is ready to take semi-solid food from a spoon at 4 to 6 months; at about 8 months, soft foods cut up small, and between 9 and 12 months it´s appropriate to start the baby trying to manage a spoon and fork, and holding a cup, with the parents´ help. Delaying the practice of these skills can hamper good eating habits later.
A semi-solid consistency (purée) is appropriate when starting complementary feeding. At 8-10 months you can add pieces of soft foods such as biscuits, bread, fruit, meat, pasta, vegetables, etc. Harder foods that do not break apart easily, like nuts, sweets, etc.,  should be avoided, at least during the first five years of life, as they are common causes of choking.
When starting complementary feeding there are different possibilities regarding the order of introduction of different foods. It hasn´t been shown whether it´s more correct or beneficial to start with one or another food in particular, this will depend on the family´s own habits and customs, the family´s wishes or the paediatrician’s advice. Cereal for infants is usually recommended to start with, being rich in iron, and later, fruit and vegetables may be included.
Each new food should be offered separately, without combining it with others, and be given daily for a week, in order to detect possible food allergies. Commercial purées, whether of fruit, vegetables, meat or fish, are not suitable in general and should be reserved only for specific situations, when it is not possible to prepare homemade food.
It is desirable that the baby be included at family meals, so gathering around the table becomes an enjoyable time, helping the baby to acquire healthy eating habits by following the example of his parents and older brothers and sisters.
In same the same way that it´s important to recognise the baby´s hunger signs, it´s also just as important to look for signs of satiety: when he turns his head, closes his mouth, or pulls away, this means that he is full and doesn´t need to eat more.



During the first year of life, and once complementary feeding has been started, milk (breast or formula) continues to be an important source of nutrients, and feeds must be continued at 500-700 ml/day.

Other dairy products (yogurt, cheese, etc.) can be introduced in small amounts, but owing to their ability to produce allergies, as they are produced from cow’s milk, they should not be offered before 9 months of age.

Cereals are divided into two types with respect to infant feeding: those that contain no gluten (sweetcorn, rice) and those that do (wheat, oats, barley, rye), the latter may be responsible for celiac disease (a condition of gluten intolerance).

Cereals without gluten can be offered from 4 months of age, mixed well with water, breast milk or formula. It is preferable to feed with a spoon rather than a bottle, as this can cause the baby to consume too much, thereby encouraging the development of obesity.

As for cereals with gluten, it is recommended to introduce them in small amounts between 4 and 6 months (but before the age of 7 months), ideally when still breastfeeding. Both early and late introduction have been linked to increased risk of celiac disease.

Gofio, very common in our Canarian food culture, is not recommended until after the first year of life because of its high phytate content, and because it isn´t a hydrolysed cereal, making it more difficult to digest.

Vegetables are rich in vitamins and fibre, and are an essential part of a healthy diet. They can be introduced from 4-6 months, usually boiled, drained and mashed, adding a splash of olive oil. After 8 months, they can be eaten as pieces.

Leafy greens (spinach, chard, etc.) and tubers, such as beets or turnips, should be avoided for the time being, owing to their high content of nitrates its ability to produce a blood disorder called methemoglobinemia . They can be offered from one year onwards.

It is also preferable to avoid very flatulent vegetables like cabbage or cauliflower.

Cooked vegetables, if not consumed, should be discarded after two days, even though they may have been kept in a refrigerator.

Legumes can be offered in small quantities from 9-10 months of age.

Natural fruit can be introduced from 4-6 months in the form of purée or juice. Almost all fruit is suitable, although it is preferable to delay introducing more allergenic ones, such as peaches, strawberries and kiwis, until 2 years.

Juices should never be given by bottle (which promotes tooth decay), but with spoon or cup, without adding sugar or honey. Pieces of fruit can be offered when the baby is able to chew without choking.

Artificial juices are not suitable for babies, and they are also, generally, unhealthy in childhood.

From six months you can gradually introduce meat in small amounts. It´s usual to start with a milder taste like chicken or beef, and later pork, rabbit, etc.

Offal is not recommended, but can be fed sporadically from the first year of life.

Fish (fresh or frozen) is usually introduced from the eighth month, normally white fish at first (hake, sole, megrim, parrot fish, etc.), then blue fish.

It is also recommended to delay the introduction of eggs until the end of the first year, usually cooked yolk at 9 months, and the white after 12 months.

In general, you should not add salt to food during the first year.

Nor is it appropriate to sweeten food with sugar, honey, condensed milk or sweeteners, which predispose to an early appetite for sweetness, as well as increasing the risk of tooth decay, diabetes and obesity.

It isn´t necessary to provide water whilst breastfeeding exclusively, only after starting complementary feeding.

During the first year, it is difficult to estimate the amount of water a baby needs, since there are variations depending on the ambient temperature, food eaten, etc. It´s best to offer water several times a day, and let the child regulate what he drinks.

It isn´t advisable to give tea or infusions of any kind.

A few tips

  • Give your child healthy foods from an early age that will allow them to grow into a healthy adult.
  • The bottle, only for milk in the first few months. Juices, soups, etc., from a cup or spoon.
  • Every child needs to try a new food around 10 times before accepting it. If refused, offer it again another day.
  • Be a good example yourself: eat a healthy and varied diet.
  • As a parent, you decide what your baby eats, but only he knows how much food he needs: respect signs of satiety, don´t overfeed.
  • Sweets, artificial juices, pastries: not to be offered, even occasionally.
« Back

Uso de cookies

Este sitio web utiliza cookies para que usted tenga la mejor experiencia de usuario. Si continúa navegando está dando su consentimiento para la aceptación de las mencionadas cookies y la aceptación de nuestra política de cookies

Aviso de cookies