When should babies be introduced to solid foods? Many physician groups and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend waiting till your infant is at least 6 months old before solid foods are introduced into his or her diet.
But a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports that 4 in 10 parents start feeding their babies solid foods before their four-month birthday.
Why should parents wait? According to the AAP, its partly because early solid foods have been linked to obesity and other chronic conditions. Public health experts also agree that a mothers breast milk or nutritionally fortified formula is best fed exclusively till the baby is about 6 months old.
"Introducing solid foods early means that the baby gets less breast milk over the course of their infancy, and that decreases the ability to get optimal benefits, like protection against infection," said Dr. Alice Kuo, from the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities.
Choking on solid foods is another concern experts have noted.
"Infants should be able to sit up (and) take food off the spoon," said the CDC's Kelley Scanlon, who worked on the research." Sometimes if they're not ready, if they get presented with the food, they might not open their mouth or they might spit it back up."
The teams research included 1,334 new moms who filled out questionnaires each month about what their baby had eaten in the past week. The surveys were conducted between 2005 and 2007, when AAP recommendations called for starting solid foods no earlier than four months of age. Just over 40 percent of parents reported their babies were eating solids, such as cereals and purees, before that point.
Why were the mothers feeding solid foods so early? They gave several answers. They thought their baby was old enough, their infant seemed hungry " even after being breastfed or given a bottle, and surprisingly many re