Lifestyle & Belief

Study: Many parents are giving babies solid food too early


Parents should wait until their infants are at least 6 months old before offering them solid foods, recommends the American Academy of Pediatrics.



Most experts recommend not introducing solid food into an infant's diet until six months of age, but a new study out shows that the vast majority of parents are giving their babies solids too soon.

Weaning a baby onto solid food too early has also been linked to the development of chronic conditions, such as childhood obesity, celiac disease, diabetes and eczema.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended babies are only fed breast milk or formula for the first six months until the baby's digestive system is mature enough to handle new foods.

The study, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interviewed 1,334 new mom and found that 93 percent of them had introduced solids before six months.

"Solid foods were being started before 4 months in about half of those kids," Dr. Deb Lonzer, a pediatrician from the Cleveland Clinic, who did not participate in the study told Fox News.

"And in about 10 percent of them, it was actually being started in the first four weeks of life."

Reasons cited by the moms for starting solids early 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," or "It would help my baby sleep longer at night," according to the study.

The study's senior author Kelley Scanlon, an epidemiologist at the division of nutrition, physical activity and obesity at the CDC in Atlanta, said that mothers who formula-fed their babies were more likely to say their doctor told them that starting solid foods before 4 months was acceptable.

Scanlon said the results showed that health care providers need to provide "clear and accurate" guidance on feeding recommendations to new parents and help them carry them out.

Dr. Deb Lozner said that instead of turning to solid foods to satisfy or calm a fussy baby, call the child's pediatrician instead.

"So, if you have a baby who is under 6 months and is taking in enormous quantities of breast milk or formula or really seems unsatisfied with feeding or who is fussy all of the time, it may have nothing to do with feeding," she told Fox. "It may be a variety of other behavioral or even medical issues."