Okay, we’re not talking about a baby chewing on a rack of ribs or munching a bag of chips, but a new study in the Journal Pediatrics shows many parents are feeding their infants solid foods they think are healthy waaaay too early.
In many cases, it’s cereal (often mixed with formula), applesauce, or strained carrots. But in any case, before 6 months of age, none of that stuff is a good idea.
The Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents wait until age 6 months before introducing solids. Others say 4 months at the absolute earliest. Yet this study shows 90 percent of infants have had a taste of solids before 6 months, and 40 percent before 4 months of age.
And often on the misinformed advice of their physicians.
You might say, “Whats the big deal? Solids help a baby sleep better. Solids help a baby get more complete nutrition. Solids make a baby happier.”
Wrong. Wrong. And … how about another wrong.
There are several reasons for holding off:
1. Even though babies can swallow breast milk and formula, they often have underdeveloped throat muscles for swallowing solids before 6 months. So they choke or get the food into their lungs. Don’t turn your back if you don’t believe this one.
2. Higher risk of eczema and allergies.
3. Higher risk of celiac disease
4. Malnutrition. That’s right. The tykes fill up on solids, so they don’t get the complete nutrition they would get from breast milk or formula.
5. We will leave the higher risk of childhood diabetes and obesity to another discussion.
6. A weaker immune system.
Now you might say that all of this research is a bunch of hooey. That you have gotten away with it or even your mom or grandmom did it and look how you turned out.
If that’s the case, you all were lucky.
In the race to health, growth, and development, breast milk is best, formula comes in second, and solids come in last place. Do what’s best for your baby. And tell your doctor to get up to speed— often we are giving you the wrong advice.