• Open Access

Scientific Opinion on the appropriate age for introduction of complementary feeding of infants


  • EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA)

  • Panel members: Carlo Agostoni, Jean-Louis Bresson, Susan Fairweather-Tait, Albert Flynn, Ines Golly, Hannu Korhonen, Pagona Lagiou, Martinus Løvik, Rosangela Marchelli, Ambroise Martin, Bevan Moseley, Monika Neuhäuser-Berthold, Hildegard Przyrembel, Seppo Salminen, Yolanda Sanz, John (Sean) J Strain, Stephan Strobel, Inge Tetens, Daniel Tomé, Hendrik van Loveren and Hans Verhagen.
  • Correspondence: nda@efsa.europa.eu
  • Acknowledgement: The Panel wishes to thank the members of the Working Group on Infant Formulae, subgroup Complementary Feeding for the drafting of this opinion: Carlo Agostoni, Renate Bergmann, Jean-Louis Bresson, Kim Fleischer Michaelsen, Hildegard Przyrembel, Yolanda Sanz and Daniel Tomé
  • Adoption date: 2 December 2009
  • Published date: 21 December 2009
  • Question number: EFSA-Q-2008-311
  • On request from: European Commission


Following a request from the Commission, the Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the appropriate age for the introduction of complementary food for infants in the EU. Many European countries have adopted the WHO recommendation for the duration of exclusive breast-feeding for 6 months, whilst other countries recommend the introduction of complementary feeding between 4 and 6 months. The Panel agrees with WHO and other authoritative national and international bodies that breast-milk is the preferred food for infants, but the focus in this opinion are the factors which determine the appropriate age for the introduction of complementary food into infants’ diets. The Panel has evaluated predominantly studies in breast-fed healthy infants born at term for indicators of an appropriate age at which to introduce complementary food irrespective of existing recommendations on breast-feeding duration and on exclusivity of breast-feeding. The Panel has focussed its evaluation on data from developed countries. On the basis of present knowledge, the Panel concludes that the introduction of complementary food into the diet of healthy term infants in the EU between the age of 4 and 6 months is safe and does not pose a risk for adverse health effects (both in the short-term, including infections and retarded or excessive weight gain, and possible long-term effects such as allergy and obesity).