40% of mothers start their infants on solid food earlier than medical experts recommend. This especially happens to babies who are formula-fed. Experts recommend a minimum age of 4 months old says a new study in the April 2013 issue of Pediatrics.
53% of infants who were formula-fed and 24% of breast-fed were started on solids before the recommended 4 months.
Mothers who started their baby’s too early on solids cited reasons such as ” My baby was old enough,” and, “It would help my baby sleep longer at night.”
There are multiple reasons why you should wait 4 months to give your infant solids. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that the head and neck control and overall coordination that an infant needs to safely eat solids does not develop until around 4 months. Also the study notes that feeding infants solids early could increase the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, eczema and celiac disease.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends recommends exclusive breast feeding first 6 months because of numerous health benefits for infants such as reduced risk of respiratory and ear infections, diarrhea, diabetes, obesity and sudden infant death syndrome.
1,334 mothers provided information for the new study.
- 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; 71% said the baby seemed hungry a lot; 67% said the baby wanted the food I ate or showed interest in solid food; 8% said the baby had a medical condition that might be helped by eating solid food.
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