An early release article in Pediatrics this month tells us that many babies may be introduced to solid food much earlier than doctors recommend — especially if they are perceived by their parents as being fussy.
The report found that, in the families interviewed, 77 percent of infants were fed solid foods at the age of three months, and 25 percent were given juice. The more active and less pleasurable parents rated their babies, the more likely they were to have food and juice in the early months.
Many of these babies were getting solids as young as one month.
We know there’s big debate about feeding solids at four versus six months (with most health organizations saying six is optimal), so is it a problem that so many newborns are being fed solids? The researchers say, yes:
They note that the incidence of U.S. infants and toddlers being overweight has increased by 60 percent in the last 30 years, and having solids earlier in life (and discontinuing breastfeeding) has been linked with higher weight gain.
The researchers say that cultural and socioeconomic factors play in heavily. The population studied was a group of low income black mothers — who are less likely to wait four to six months to give solids.
The finding that fussier babies get solids earlier rings true to me. I think infants with active, “selective” temperaments tend to have all manner of remedies thrown at them (for example, remember the findings that fussy babies get a lot of herbal teas and so forth).
Parents want to do all they can to make their newborns happy and friends, family, and even doctors may suggest they try food earlier, thinking fussy babies are just hungry.
What do you think – does it seem true that more active, uncomfortable, or challenging babies get solids earlier? Is that a problem?