Early introduction of solid foods. Influence on child rearing

Early introduction of solid foods. Influence on child rearing

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Early introduction of solid foods in infants has been associated with increased risks of childhood growth and development, most importantly obesity. The diversification of the diet should start, according to the recommendations of the specialists, about 6 months if the baby is breastfed, and not earlier than 4 months, if it is fed with powdered milk. Don't rush to introduce solid foods into the baby's menu!

Risk of childhood obesity

It seems that the introduction of solid foods earlier than 4 months in infants fed with the bottle was associated with a 6 times higher risk of obesity up to the age of 3 years, than in those who started diversification later. This risk was not found in babies breastfed exclusively.

A possible explanation of the association between feeding with the bottle and the risk of obesity consists in increasing the energy supply in the body, by introducing solid foods, and the inability of the baby to consume properly. Because of this, the percentage of body fat and weight increases more in childhood and favors the occurrence of obesity.

Influence on child rearing

Researchers have conducted several studies on how early introduction of solid foods influences children's growth. The experiments were carried out on 700 healthy babies, fed on powdered milk and divided into 4 groups, depending on the period when they began to consume solid foods:

  • between 3 and 4 months;
  • between 4 and 5 months;
  • between 5 and 6 months;
  • over 6 months.

The children's body measurements were made at the beginning of the study and then after 3, 6, 12 and 24 months. The results of the study showed that the calorie intake was higher in the first 8 months of life in the babies who started to diversify their diet very early, at 3 months. They weighed less than the others, but their growth had slowed in 6 months, compared to babies who began to consume solids at 6 months and had a slow but progressive growth.

Those who began diversification before the age of 4 months gained more weight in the first year of life than those who started later, but this did not influence their long-term growth.

In fact, the researchers' conclusions were that early introduction of solid foods did not influence body measurements in terms of height, up to the age of 2 years. Not the same can be said about weight, a subject on which the researchers had to make more specifics and found an adverse influence on the introduction of solid foods earlier than 4 months.

When is it ready for solid foods?

There is no ideal age to begin with food diversification, but the specialists offer some recommendations to help you figure out the right time to start feeding diversification.

If you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby, wait up to 6 months to begin diversification, and if you feed it with powdered milk, you can start introducing these foods from 4 months.

There are also some signs that help you realize that the baby is ready for this step. He must be able to stand in the ass, show interest in what you eat and chew, even if he has not fully developed the ability to chew.

Tags Baby Food Diversification Solid Baby Foods Baby Growth Baby Weight Baby Obesity