Today on the blog pediatrician Stephanie Dekom of @mommyhotline is sharing her tips for transitioning your baby from the breast.
One question that often comes up in the office is the idea of transitioning baby from the breast. To begin, I want to make it clear—mommy decides when she is ready to wean her baby from the breast. The timing of this transition will be different for each mother and her child, and that is perfectly alright.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breast feeding until six months of age, and, ideally, continuation for a year and beyond depending on maternal wishes. Any period of breast-feeding is useful; the milk is not only incredibly nutritious, but functions in some ways like a medication. By six months, most babies are developmentally coordinated enough to begin eating solid foods.
Here are 5 tips for transitioning your baby beyond breastfeeding:
- Start the introduction of a sippy cup for drinking at about 6 months of age. Plan to have baby weaned from the bottle to a regular open lid cup by 12 to 14 months. Drinking from a bottle beyond this age will affect tooth development and positioning.
- Your baby should not have water until six months of age. However, even beyond six months of age and up to one year, water should be used to supplement your infant’s hydration only during hot weather. Water is nutrition-less, and your baby needs to be taking in calories that are essential to growth and development.
- You can introduce your baby to cow’s milk after his or her first birthday. Cow’s milk prior to the first birthday may lead to the development of milk protein allergy. Some moms want to use soy milk or goat’s milk, which are acceptable alternatives, but mommies should be aware that goat’s milk has minimal vitamin B12 and soy milk must be fortified with vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin A.
- I want to touch on fruit juice. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises no fruit juice before age one. My professional opinion regarding fruit juices is that they should be avoided by all age groups. They are calorically dense with carbohydrates and sugars and provide little nutritional value. I would much prefer my pediatric patients (and their mommies) eat fruit and have a separate liquid for hydration.
- Finally, the transition to solid food means your baby also has teeth. It is very important to start wiping or brushing baby’s teeth in the morning and night. Good oral hygiene starts very early, and cavities can begin to form as soon as teeth break through the gums.
Parenthood can be daunting. Your life changes in a flash. Suddenly, you are responsible for another life—a life you cherish, in many ways, more than your own. The challenges of parenthood can seem overwhelming. As a pediatrician, I understand that and want to help make the process easier.
That’s why I started my Instagram account, @mommyhotline. My goal is to create an online resource for parents. I will be posting a tip or two a day regarding general pediatric care. Additionally, I hope to grow followers and eventually engage and take questions. My aim is not only to provide general pediatric knowledge, but to also address those burning questions you have that you are too afraid to ask in the office.
Stephanie Dekom, MD is a board-certified pediatrician located in Los Angeles. She studied in Washington, DC at The George Washington University School of Medicine. During medical school, Stephanie took a one year leave of absence after she won the title of Miss District of Columbia 2010, and subsequently competed in the Miss America Pageant. After obtaining her medical degree in 2013, she subsequently went on to train in General Pediatrics at UCLA. She is currently a fellow at Los Angeles County & University of Southern California medical center and The Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles when she is further subspecializing in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine.
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