Early Solid Food Intake in Infants
Pediatricians often encourage mothers to gradually introduce their babies to eating solid foods once they reach the age of four to six months. However, it has been found that many babies are started on solid foods even before this age, according to a recent study published in Pediatrics.
Experts are concerned, because the early introduction to solid foods may make infants vulnerable to increased risk for chronic disease, such as obesity and diabetes. Heather B. Clayton, PhD, MPH, from the Epidemic Intelligence Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues surveyed more than 1300 mothers who participated in the Infant Feeding Practices Study II (2005 – 2007). The women returned completed questionnaires indicating when they introduced their infants to solid foods and why.
Results showed that more than 40% of mothers introduced solid foods before their babies were 4 months old, including some who did so before 4 weeks of age. Most of these mothers were found to be younger, unmarried, with less education, lower income, and participated in the Women, Infants, and Children program.
The researchers report that 53% of mothers who used milk formula gave their babies solid food before four months while 50% of those who gave mixed feeding and 24% of those who breastfed also did so. Most mothers (89%) who gave their babies solid food early cited that their babies were old enough to begin eating solid food and many others (71%) said that their babies always seemed hungry.
The researchers believe that their study provides important information on why mothers introduce solid food earlier than recommended and how the type of milk feeding also affected the outcome.
Hand, L. Infants Often Introduced to Solid Food Too Early. Medscape.