Starting solids may be a ways off in your baby’s world (especially if you’re still pregnant), but a new study has found that many mothers are introducing babies to solid food earlier than medical experts recommend.
A recent article in USA Today discussed the study, which found 40% of mothers start feeding their baby solids before the recommended minimum age of four months old.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the head and neck control and overall coordination infants need to safely eat solids doesn’t develop until around 4 months. In addition, the early introduction of solids may increase the risk of some chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, eczema and celiac disease.
Starting baby on solids too soon also has an effect on the length of time a baby is exclusively breastfed. The AAP recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months because of numerous health benefits for infants. When a baby starts solid foods, they will naturally cut back on nursing or bottle-feeding, which affects the nutrients a baby is receiving in their diet.
The study also found:
- Mothers who introduced solid food before 4 months were more likely to be younger, unmarried, have less education or be participating in the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program.
- 8% said they introduced solid food as early as 1 month or younger, including 11% who formula-fed only and 5% who breast-fed only.
- 89% of moms who introduced solid food early said they did so because their baby was old enough to begin eating solids.
o 71% said the baby seemed hungry a lot.
o 67% said the baby wanted the food I ate or showed interest in solid food.
o 8% said the baby had a medical condition that might be helped by eating solid food.
It is best to work with your child’s pediatrician or health care provider and follow their recommendations before starting baby on solids.