It’s recently been brought to attention that babies are being started on solid food too early. According to WHO guidelines it is recommended that babies aren’t given solid food until they’re six months old.
A study done in the US followed 1,482 infants age six to 36 months, found that more than half of the babies (54.6 per cent) were given food or drinks other than breast milk or infant formula (e.g., cow’s milk, juice, sugar water, baby food) too early — before the age of six months recommended by the WHO.
The study found that babies who were never breastfed or who were breastfed for less than four months were the most likely to be introduced to complementary foods too early.
The results also showed that only a third of babies were given solid food at six months after having been breastfed exclusively for the first six months.
The WHO recommends:
- early initiation of breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth;
- exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life; and
- introduction of nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months together with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond
Introducing complementary foods too soon isn’t recommended, but starting them too late can also have consequences. These include micronutrient deficiency, allergies and poorer diets later in life.
The study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. You find more information on the study here.
For more information on weaning your baby, see the HSE website here.
For more information see the WHO website here.