Most mothers may be starting their infants on solid foods months sooner than specialists recommend, mistakenly believing their children are old enough to graduate from breast milk or formula – but many say they’re simply following doctors’ orders, according to a study published today.
on solid foods months sooner than specialists recommend, mistakenly believing
their children are old enough to graduate from breast milk or formula – but
many say they’re simply following doctors’ orders, according to a study
should wait until their little ones are at least 6 months old before offering
them solid foods, say many child-nutrition experts, including the American
Academy of Pediatrics.
researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – who surveyed
1,334 new moms – discovered that almost 93 percent of those women had
introduced solid foods to their infants before 6 months, that 40 percent did it
before the 4-month mark, and that 9 percent had offered solids to their babies
before they were even four weeks old, according to the study, published today
percent said that their health care provider told them it was time to introduce
solid food,” said Kelley Scanlon, a co-author of the study and lead
epidemiologist in the nutrition branch in the division of nutrition, physical
activity and obesity at the CDC.
for us, indicates that health care providers need to provide clearer guidance
and really support women in carrying out the recommendation,” Scanlon said.
groups settled on the 6-month cut-off after earlier research determined that
children who get solid food at too early might be at a greater risk for
developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, eczema and celiac
disease, Scanlon said.
mothers who volunteered for the CDC study filled out food diaries and
questionnaires designed to ferret out their opinions on why and when solid
foods should be offered.
moms offering solid foods to infants younger than 4 months, the most commonly
cited reasons for doing so included: “My baby was old enough;” “My baby seemed
hungry;” “I wanted to feed my baby something in addition to breast milk or
formula,” “My baby wanted the food I ate;” “A doctor or other health care
professional said my baby should begin eating solid food;” and “It would help
my baby sleep longer at night,” researchers reported.
more, moms who fed their babies formula were far more likely to start solids
too early versus those who exclusively breast-fed (53 percent versus 24
percent), the study showed.
expert unaffiliated with the CDC study suggested that some health-care
providers may simply be unfamiliar with current baby-feeding recommendations.
this is worrisome,” said Ann Condon-Meyers, a pediatric dietician at the
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
“I think it may show that word isn’t getting out that … it is 6 months before
solid foods should be offered.”
the study’s findings didn’t surprise Condon-Meyers, who added: “I work in
pediatrics and we see a lot of early introduction of solid foods when we do
addition to possibly boosting, a child’s risk for contracting certain chronic
diseases, introducing solid foods too early often means babies don’t drink an
adequate amount of breast milk or formula, and that can translate into poorer
nutrition, Condon-Meyers said.
milk and formula have all the nutrients and vitamins a baby needs and in the
right proportions, Condon-Meyers said.
start giving solid food too early then you are diluting the nutritional
intake,” she said. “You’re getting more calories, but less of the nutrients a
baby needs to grow.”