As it turns out, most people have been feeding babies solid food way before they should, according to a study in the U.S.A. So when can babies start solids?
The study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which reveals that only a third of babies are introduced to solid food at the recommended age of six months.
Children start solids too early
The study discovered that parents start more than half of babies on solid food way too early. Around 38% of these babies are at four to five months of age, while 16% are at just four months old.
“Introducing babies to complementary foods too early can cause them to miss out on important nutrients that come from breastmilk and infant formula,” said research lead Chloe M. Barrera at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Children who start solids too late
Of course, the opposite also has a negative impact on an infant’s development. There are risks that are associated with delaying solid food. The percentage of parents doing this? Around 13%.
“Conversely, introducing them to complementary foods too late has been associated with micronutrient deficiencies, allergies, and poorer diets later in life,” Barrera said.
So babies who start solids way too early or too late are at risk of nutrition issues. But why are parents missing the mark when it comes to the ideal six-month target?
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A history of babies who start solids
In the past century, the recommendations for introducing solid food to babies have changed dramatically. In 1958, guidelines were published suggesting that babies should start solids in the third month. During the ‘70s, they suggested that babies start solids after four months. The 1990s pushed the age even further, at six months.
It took around two decades, in 2012, before the American Academy of Pediatrics definitively stated that babies start solids at six months. This was after they were encouraged by the health benefits of breastmilk.
These changing guidelines have been influenced by past studies on infant nutrition. Most of these studies show a lack of adherence to current professional guidelines, the new study revealed.
When do babies start solids?
Most parents are unaware of these recommendations on when babies can start solids. For some of them, they are even hard to follow.
Still, for some others, there are pervasive beliefs that clash with current recommendations. For example, some believe that solid food can help infants sleep better. But experts have dismissed these beliefs as myths.
So if you’re unsure of when your baby can start solids, just remember to begin at six months.
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