Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In the News: Early Solid Foods and Obesity Risk

A few weeks ago, we talked about findings from a large study about increased obesity risk with putting babies to sleep with a bottle. This time, we’ll share another outcome from that same study related to early solid food introduction. They found that introducing solid foods before four months of age increased obesity risk by 40 percent, and this was not the only study with this finding. (Gibbs 2013) In a past postwe shared a 2011 study indicating  that there was a 6-fold higher risk of obesity at 3 years when infants were started on solid foods before 4- months of age. This risk, however, was only seen in infants that were formula fed or fed breast milk for less than 4-months.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization continue to recommend that parents wait until 6-months of age to start solid foods with their infants. However, many parents start solid foods earlier than this. In the Gibbs study, 29% of formula fed infants and 9% of breastfed infants started solids before 4-months of age.

There are many reasons parents start solid foods earlier than the recommended 6-months of age. According to a study reported on in a past post, top reasons for starting solid foods included:
  • Thinking that the baby seemed hungry
  • Wanting to feed something other than formula or breast milk
  • Wanting the child to sleep longer
  • Having a healthcare professional tell the parent to start solids earlier
  • The baby wants the food that the parent was eating
If you're feeling tempted or confused, please read this past post for tools to help you deal with each of these common reasons for starting solids early.

The Gibbs study explores some common feeding practices and we know that their findings and recommendations may challenge your current practices. For more information about why it’s important to wait until about 6-months to start solid foods and how to know when your baby is ready, click here. When did you start solid foods with your baby and why?

Gibbs BG, Forste R. Socioeconomic status, infant feeding practices and early childhood obesity. Pediatr Obes. 2013 Apr 2. [Epub ahead of print]

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