Whether you breast or formula feed your baby, at some point you are going to have to introduce solid foods. There is no magic age at which this should happen, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting at least until your baby can sit independently and grab for things to put in her mouth. This usually occurs between the ages of four and seven months.
In addition, the AAP suggests starting baby off with simple and healthy foods like rice cereal and oatmeal. Once that has been established, it is recommended that you add vegetables and then fruits to the menu.
Of course, we all do things a little bit differently and there’s no reason to judge a parent who introduces solids at a slightly earlier or later age or serves fruits before vegetables.
But what about parents who skip the healthy stuff altogether and start their infants off on cookies, juice and chips? According to recent Australian research, many parents are doing just that.
The researchers, who tracked 587 new mothers for a period of 12 months via regular phone interviews, found that one in four babies had been introduced to fruit juice, biscuits and cake by the time they were six months old. In some cases, babies as young as one-month-old were being fed junk food that was high in sugar, salt and fat.
Professor Clare Collins, spokesperson for Dietitians Association of Australia, says that this disregard for proper nutrition at such a young age is putting those children at risk for a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits and consequential weight problems.
“Infants and children are dependent on adults to choose the foods that will be best for them. Both eating habits and body weight track from childhood into adulthood, so getting off to the right start is crucial.”
I am kind of horrified to imagine itty bitty babies drinking soda and eating ice cream. But judging by the number little kids I’ve seen toddling around with a bag of chips in hand, I guess it shouldn’t be surprising.
But while Professor Collins goes on to suggest that this research indicates that parents need more support to “optimize breastfeeding initiation and duration rates,” I hardly think non-breastfeeders are the only guilty parties here.
What about you? When did your kids get their first taste of junk food? And did you breastfeed first?
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