Four in ten babies are started on solid foods too early, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study indicates, prompting the American Association of Pediatrics to remind parents to wait at least six months before adding food to a diet of breastmilk or formula.
Forty percent of parents surveyed admitted to starting a baby on solid foods before the recommended guideline of six months of age, and the reasons varied.
Even doctors may be in part causing the high numbers of babies starting solids too early, perhaps unaware of updated guidelines about delaying solid foods.
Dr. Deb Lonzer, a pediatrician from the Cleveland Clinic, did not participate in the research on solid foods and young infants, but Lonzer commented:
“Solid foods were being started before 4 months in about half of those kids … And in about 10 percent of them, it was actually being started in the first four weeks of life.”
Dated information passed around may also be contributing to the issue, as Lonzer explains:
“They get information from so many sources, from friends, to relatives, to the Internet, that they’re not exactly sure what to do … And they figure, “Hey I may as well try some solid foods. Maybe the baby will sleep better and be happier that way.”
According to Lonzer, the AAP guidelines on starting solids allow for the full benefits of breastmilk to be received, as well as preventing early choking issues and reducing the likelihood of future digestive problems. She advises not turning to solid foods to soothe a fussy infant, suggesting medical advice should the problem persist.
The study on solid foods and babies receiving them too early was published in the most recent edition of Pediatrics.