Food diversification: can we really start it at 4 months?

Food diversification: a window between 4 months and 6 months

After years of hesitation and in view of the latest scientific studies, there is now a medical consensus on the question of the beginnings of diversification, says Professor Patrick Tounian: “We must diversify the diet of all children between 4 months and 6 months, whether or not they have a history of allergy”. In this two-month window, it is up to each parent to do as they wish according to their feelings, the baby’s appetite, the interest shown by the baby in solid food… provided that one does not diversify before 4 months, nor after 6 months. Diversifying too early or too late does in fact entail dangers. Too early, “this risks reducing the intake of infant milk in favor of foods that are not very rich in nutrition and therefore lead to deficiencies, particularly in iron and fatty acids”, explains the pediatrician. Diversification before 4 months could also favor the onset of an allergy, just like diversification after 6 months.

Food diversification at 4 months: the question of allergy

For a long time, the question of babies at risk of allergy, which today concerns 25% of children, was at the heart of the question of diversification. A few years ago, specialists recommended diversification after 6 months, especially in children with a history of allergy and for allergenic foods. Today, studies point in the opposite direction. “Since 2004, all studies have shown that the decision to postpone the introduction of foods is probably more harmful than beneficial. We now know that early diversification between 4 and 6 months favors the induction of food tolerance. » In addition, many allergists and nutritionists now advise introducing allergenic foods (exotic fruits, fish, eggs, nuts, peanuts) from the start of diversification, between 4 and 6 months.

Dietary diversification and breastfeeding

“Breastfeeding infants must be exclusive, that is to say without any other food intake than breast milk, until the age of six months”, we read on the recommendations of the WHO. At the national level, the PNNS indicates that “you can exclusively breastfeed your child until the child is 6 months old. In any case, do not give him any food other than milk before the start of the 5th month.

Should we deduce from this that in the case of exclusive breastfeeding, diversification should be started after 6 months? ” Nopeinsists our specialist. The WHO recommendations are valid for developing countries, where breastfeeding is a vital issue for infants. As for the PNNS, it is now obsolete on the rules of diversification”. Conclusion: breastfeeding or not, this same window of 4-6 months should be respected.

Beginning of diversification: gently from 4 months!

Whether you decide to start it at 4 or 5 months, diversification must in any case be done gently. “Diversification has three interests, explains the pediatrician. Introduce potential allergens little by little and in small quantities to promote the induction of food tolerance, diversify tastes and provide pleasure. In any case, it is not a question of covering the nutritional needs of the baby, a role fulfilled exclusively by infant milk “. Also up to a year, the baby needs 500 ml of infant milk daily, i.e. two bottles (or three if they contain vegetable or fruit purees).

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