- On May 17, 2018
Introducing solid foods to infants can be such an exciting time. Discovering their likes, dislikes, and exploring new foods is such an amazing milestone for babies. The foods we prepare are just as important as when we offer those foods to our infants. A recent report indicated that more than half of babies are currently introduced to complementary foods prematurely. Complementary foods include foods or drinks other than breast milk or formula. Early food introduction tends to occur among infants who were never breastfed or breastfed for less than four months. It is very important to introduce complementary foods at the appropriate age to receive the most benefit from breast milk or formula and to avoid missing out on important nutrients. Introducing foods too late may cause issues as well such as micronutrient deficiencies, allergies, and poorer diets later in life.
Current recommendations encourage parents to introduce complementary foods to their infant at around six months. Based on the 2009-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 32.5% of babies in the United States are following the recommendations at six months, 16.3% were introduced before four months, 38.3% were introduced at four to five months, and 12.9% were introduced at seven or more months. Recommendation inconsistency may be attributed to healthcare professionals or caregivers that are not up to date on the current guidelines. Recommendations regarding the appropriate age has changed from introducing foods at three months in 1958 to four months in the 1970s, and now six months which were established in the 1990s.
The United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services will release the first federal dietary guidelines for children under two years of age in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines. This effort should help and educate parents and healthcare providers with a consistent message on the most up to date recommendations. For any advice or tips on how and what to feed your baby at six months, please register for the A Solid Start: How to introduce solids to create adventurous eaters class at Pea Pod Nutrition or schedule a consultation with a Registered Dietitian.
Kirsten E. Kearse, RKT
Life University, M.S. Nutrition
- Chloe M. Barrera, Heather C. Hamner, Cria G. Perrine, Kelley S. Scanlon. Timing of Introduction of Complementary Foods to US Infants, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009-2014. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2018; DOI: 1016/j.jand.2017.10.020