Many parents are introducing solid foods to infants too soon
A recent national survey of 1,334 mothers by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that 40 percent of mothers gave their infants solid food before the age of 4 months. Current guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) state that:
- Babies should not be given solids until at least 6 months of age.
- Up until age 6 months, breast milk and formula are the only foods recommended by the AAP.
Nearly 10 percent of mothers gave their infants solid food as early as 4 weeks of age, even though studies have shown that such an early introduction can put babies at risk for choking, diarrhea, intestinal inflammation, and even diabetes and obesity later in life.
Many parents cited a belief that it would help babies sleep as a reason for giving solids. Unmarried, low-income and young mothers were most likely to introduce solid foods, due to the low incidence of breastfeeding in these groups and the high cost of formula.
More than 50 percent of respondents said their doctors advised them to introduce solid foods, suggesting that there may be a need for better education on solid food guidelines among physicians and other health-care providers.