The American Academy of Pediatrics 2012 feeding recommendation for newborns and infants states that babies should not be given solid foods until six months of age. This recommendation is based on evidence that introducing solid foods earlier may increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, eczema, and celiac disease. However, according to new research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 40 percent of mothers introduced solid foods before four months in direct defiance of the guidelines and often with the acquiescence or advice of their physician.
The study, conducted between 2005 and 2007, used 7-day food-frequency questionnaires highlighting the age at which solid food was introduced and whether or not this was in conjunction with breastfeeding. Among mothers who introduced solid food early, reasons cited included, my baby was old enough, my baby seemed hungry a lot of the time, I wanted to feed my baby something in addition to breastmilk or formula, and It would help my baby sleep longer at night. The study also found that among mothers introducing solid foods earlier than four months, average age of solid food introduction was 12 weeks, and that younger, unmarried, less educated and recipients of supplemental benefits under the WIC (Women Infants and Children) statute were more likely to be among those introducing solid foods earlier.
However, 55 percent of mothers said that they received advice from their doctors in making the decision to introduce solid foods early. To which the authors of the study respond, Healthcare providers might be equally confused about infant feeding guidelines as mothers ¦some clinicians may rely on their own infant feeding experience rather than evidence-based guidelines when counseling women.
ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava commented Getting conflicting advice can be both confusing and upsetting for new moms. Advice from pediatricians that takes into account an individual infant s growth patterns and needs is clearly necessary.