New mommies probably need to be a little more careful about feeding solid foods to their babies. A research by CDC or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that introducing complementary foods to infants too early may put them at health risks.
Experts recommend 6 months of age as the ideal time to begin weaning (shifting them from breast milk to complementary foods). These include baby food, cow’s milk, juice, puree or even water.
However, a recent study conducted by a nationally represented group in the US revealed that majority of the infants feed on solid or liquid foods sooner than the recommended time.
A nutritionist at CDC, Dr. Chloe Barrera said, “It is very important to introduce the right food at the right time or else, infants would miss out on the vital nutrients which are present in breast milk and baby formula,”
Starting the weaning process at the correct age gives babies ample time to develop their capabilities of swallowing foods. The digestive systems of babies need time to mature so that they can safely deal with solid foods.
Most parents begin weaning at 3 months of age; however, that can pose serious threat to the baby’s health, the most common being choking hazard. Moreover, complementary foods contain higher calorie content and low nutritional ingredients which lead to obesity in kids.
According to American Academy of Pediatrics, more severe health issues can be diabetes, eczema, celiac diseases, etc.
Researchers said that infant feeding guidelines have changed over the past 6 decades and that is what creates confusion amongst parents. They have evaluated the data on infant feeding practices in the United States from 2009-2014 NHANES and National Health Survey.
1482 children between the ages of 6 to 36 months were assessed in the process. Out of them, only 32.5% (one-third) started their weaning at 6 months. 38.3% were introduced to solid food at 5 months, 16.3% at 4 months and another 12.9% began at 7 months and more.
“Again, feeding solid foods too late can result in poor diet, allergies and micronutrient deficiencies in individuals when they grow up,” said Dr. Barrera.
CDC team explained the importance of mother’s milk. Human milk contains essential nutrients like iron which are vital in the infant’s first 6 months. This iron gets stored in the mother’s body during pregnancy, the amount of which is only for six months period. Therefore, mothers should introduce iron-based cereals or meat, post this age.
Besides this, the HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) and USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) are presently working on extended research for releasing the 1st federal dietary guidelines for kids below 2 years.
In a recent journal news release, Dr. Barrera informed, “We need endeavors from families, healthcare professionals as well as caregivers to ensure that children in the US are receiving the latest recommendations on complementary food introduction.”
The latest guidelines are scheduled to release in 2020 which will emphasize more on overall nutrition of kids.