CDC Report Says Babies Should Not Be Given Solid Foods Before 6 Months, But Most Are

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that many parents are feeding babies solid foods earlier than the recommended age of six months. Introducing solid foods too soon has been linked with an increased risk of obesity and diabetes, and some chronic diseases.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends solid foods to be introduced at six months old. For the survey, the CDC surveyed 1,334 new mothers.

The study found that 93 percent of American mothers feed their babies solid foods before six months. 40 percent try solids before four months old, and 9 percent introduce solids before 4 weeks old.

The researchers also discovered that poorer, younger and less well educated mothers were more likely to introduce solids too early.

Some of the reasons for this are believed to be that formula is considered as an expensive option, and the myth that babies sleep better if fed solids.

Researchers warn that feeding solids to babies before they are six months old could increase their risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes and celiac disease. They also are afraid that introducing solids too early may also increase a child's risk of obesity later in life.

It seems, however, that a lot of the blame for early feeding of solid foods lies not just on mothers, but on their doctors. Kelley Scanlon, lead author and lead epidemiologist in the nutrition branch of the division of nutrition, physical activity and obsesity at the CDC, noted:

"Fifty per cent said that their health care provider told them it was time to introduce solid food. That, for us, indicates that health care providers need to provide clearer guidance and really support women in carrying out the recommendation."

The most common reasons mothers gave when asked why the had begun introducing solid foods was that their baby was old enough. Others said they did it because their baby seemed hungry, because their doctor told them to, because the baby wanted to eat the same food as the parets, and because their child seemed hungry.

The study also found that moms who fed their babies formula instead of breast milk were more likely to offer solids too early. 53 percet of mothers who fed their baby formula introduced solids before 6 months, compared to just 24 percent of breastfeeding mothers.

Nutritionists fear that eating solid foods too early could mean that babies consume less milk and as a result, they might receive less nutrition.