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Introducing solid foods and vitamin and mineral supplementation during infancy

Teresa K Duryea, MD
Section Editors
Jan E Drutz, MD
Kathleen J Motil, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
Mary M Torchia, MD


The primary objective of feeding during the first year is the acquisition of nutrients for optimal growth [1]. The balance of energy intake to energy needs is of primary importance [2]. Secondary goals include the acquisition of oromotor skills and appropriate eating behaviors.

Feeding development is a "learned progression of behaviors" [1]. It is dependent upon structural integrity and neurologic maturation and compounded by individual temperament, interpersonal relationships, environmental influences, and culture. Feeding practices during the first two years of life help to establish lifelong eating habits, so it is important to develop healthy eating habits [2-4].

The introduction of complementary foods (sometimes called beikost, or "weaning foods") and the need for vitamin and mineral supplementation during the first year of life will be discussed here. Breastfeeding and dietary recommendations for toddlers and preschool children and issues related to the introduction of solid foods in infants at high risk for allergy are discussed separately. (See "Infant benefits of breastfeeding" and "Breastfeeding: Parental education and support" and "Nutritional composition of human milk for full-term infants" and "Dietary recommendations for toddlers, preschool, and school-age children" and "Introducing formula to infants at risk for allergic disease".)


Energy requirements for infants vary depending upon age; approximate requirements are as follows (figure 1) [5]:

0 to 2 months – 100 to 110 kcal/kg per day


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