Most Babies Eat Solid Food too Soon, Study Says

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be fed only formula or breast milk until they are 6 months old, but more than 90 percent of mothers are offering solid food to their babies earlier than that, with 40 percent offering solids before 4 months, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC survey, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, said the findings are “worrisome” in that babies may be at increased risk for developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, eczema, and celiac disease. More from NBC News:

The mothers who volunteered for the CDC study filled out food diaries and questionnaires designed to ferret out their opinions on why and when solid foods should be offered.

Among the moms offering solid foods to infants younger than 4 months, the most commonly cited reasons for doing so included: “My baby was old enough;” “My baby seemed hungry;” “I wanted to feed my baby something in addition to breast milk or formula,” “My baby wanted the food I ate;” “A doctor or other health care professional said my baby should begin eating solid food;” and “It would help my baby sleep longer at night,” researchers reported.

What’s more, moms who fed their babies formula were far more likely to start solids too early versus those who exclusively breast-fed (53 percent versus 24 percent), the study showed.

One food expert unaffiliated with the CDC study suggested that some health-care providers may simply be unfamiliar with current baby-feeding recommendations.

“I think this is worrisome,” said Ann Condon-Meyers, a pediatric dietician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. “I think it may show that word isn’t getting out that … it is 6 months before solid foods should be offered.”

Image: Baby being fed, via Shutterstock

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  1. by Hillary

    On March 26, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Not all babies fit a standard mold. My step son was content on formula until 6 months old, but my daughter wasn’t staying full on breast milk at 4 months old so her pediatrician suggested adding cereal once a day. So every baby is different and is growing at a different rate. We can’t place every baby in a mold and say every one has to fit.

  2. [...] Study says most babies eat solid food too soon (Parents.com) [...]

  3. by Kathryn

    On March 26, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    If babies are not supposed to eat solid foods until 6 months of age, why did my daughter’s pediatrician say to start her on solid foods at 4 months of age??? My daughter has been getting a teaspoon of rice cereal mixed in with her formula since she was 3 weeks old because it was too thin for her to keep down….does this mean she is going to be obese when she is older? I sure hope not because it was doctor recommended! I just feel every mother knows when their baby is ready for something new. Not all babies are the same at the same age.

  4. by Ashley G

    On March 26, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    If a baby is not staying full on breastmilk it is because they are not allowed to nurse long enough (whether external factors prevent them from nursing enough, such as if the mother has gone back to work and not able to breastfeed/pump and store milk as much as necessary, or is on medication which reduces the milk supply, or if the mother or child is stopping the breastfeeding session early before the baby has completely finished her “meal”. A mother will produce as much milk as necessary (depending on how much the baby nurses). My daughter would stop and take a short break and sometimes I assumed she was finished but she would want to nurse again 5-10 minutes later because she was still hungry. I realized that I was assuming she was finished when she would be taking a break, so I took more time to allow her to nurse and she seemed to “stay full” longer. I was a stay-at-home mom though so I was right there able to breastfeed at her will. I am only telling my experience, I am not condemning working mothers or saying everyone’s experience should be like mine. My daughter did start waking up to nurse once a night for about 6 months though, and it seemed like she wasn’t staying full- but I think it had become a habit waking up to nurse and I was allowing it. Anytime a baby isn’t getting full enough on breastmilk, you simply allow them to nurse more until they do get full. Your breasts may get empty the first time but your breasts will then produce more milk than usual for the next feeding and continue to produce as much as the baby “calls for” so-to-speak. My doctor also mentioned supplementing rice cereal in, I think that is okay, even before 6 months. I think they are referring to actual food WE eat that we mush and give to them, because their digestive systems aren’t fully developed yet to handle such foods.

    I didn’t start giving my daughter baby food (Gerber) until she was about 7 or 8 months, and it was only once in a while. I didn’t actually give her solid food (some of OUR food) until she was a year old. She breastfed for 18 months along with eating solid (healthy) food. I see so many people offering greasy food to babies such as salted potato tots/fries, hot pockets, fast food, cookies, etc. (more often than they offer healthy food) at 6 months.. 12 months.. 18 months old and I just can’t imagine doing that to my own child. I am not trying to sound judgmental, but I don’t understand how anyone wants to give greasy and artifical food to an infant, when these foods have no nutritional value. Who wouldn’t want to do the best possible thing for their child’s health??

    I hope this information continues to spread, that babies should not be fed solid food until 6 months or later. I hope this reaches the people who do not consider healthy alternatives their child’s diet.

  5. by Sheila

    On March 26, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    I don’t think they consider RICE CEREAL to be “solid” food… after all, you mix it with milk or formula.. right? Especially if it is what your doctor recommended… I think you are okay. I think the studies are referring to food you and I normally eat that people mash up to give to their children. I don’t consider Gerber baby food solid food either, but I could be mistaken. It says right there on the label of baby food what age or milestone to start feeding it to your child, and as far as I know the earliest is supported sitter which is usually around 3 or 4 months, right?

  6. by Lina

    On March 26, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Huh I don’t know who to believe any more? If solids are not good than how come the Millions /Billions of us are healthy? Get out of the USA ( well in USA as well ) majority of people can Not Aford not to start their kids in solids hence they do what they do. Beside older generation are healthier than most of the younger ones how did they eat? I had the chance to stay in Eastern Europe for 2 years they still feed the babys with Non Pasturised Cow Milk, they start solids at three months old and guess what No Obese Kids, and they think we Americans are fragile since we all have some sort of medical need ( true ). I don’t want to insult any one but how much do Doctors care for us and how much for those fat checks they get from Like Formula Companys and drug industries. Take for example the H1N1 shot they did push it so much now there is prove that it causes Narcolepsy in children or Gardisil ? I think every mother knows her child best and her budget so they do what they can. Some people can not afford formula what with expensive price ( my daughter used to go through a can of formula in two days max ) and no I didn’t feed her solids until she was 5 months and than I did one serving of fruit and one of vegies the reason she got so fat yet she was allways hungry so her doc told me to go ahead and start feeding her. By the way sorry for the spelling I’m not American and I don’t have a spell check on the I pad.

  7. by Are You Feeding Your Little One Solids Too Soon?

    On March 26, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    [...] 90 percent of parents are starting their babies on solids too soon, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. They recommend babies only feed on breast milk or formula until they’re 6 months old, but [...]

  8. by Amanda

    On March 30, 2013 at 8:33 am

    They are talking about any food not breast milk or formula. Because the intestines are not fully developed introducing any food to them could cause permanent damage. And it is damage that may not be noticed until much later in life such as Crohn’s, Celiac, etc. Ever wonder why there seems to be such a surge in these illnesses? And if you want to go with the argument that other generations fed their kids meals before they were 1, please also consider that previous generations smoke, drank, and took questionable medication also. That doesn’t mean we should do those things. The AAP and the WHO sets these guidelines because they are in the best interest of the child. I believe the WHO suggests that children be exclusively breast fed until they are 1. Other countries may do things differently but also look at the quality of life and life expectancies. I personally want to do everything I can to protect my child’s health and if that means waiting a couple months to introduce good then that us what I will do. If it means reducing their risk of allergies and digestional diseases then it doesn’t seem like that big of a sacrifice.

  9. by Elizabeth

    On April 8, 2013 at 5:10 am

    No solids including that starchy, devoid of nutritional value cereal everyone is fine with giving their baby. Why can’t people understand breastmilk is sufficient and solids are only meant to enhance intake from 6 months to a year? Your babies would survive and thrive on breastmilk alone.

  10. by Rachel

    On April 8, 2013 at 8:31 am

    I started both of my children on rice cereal when they were a few weeks old per doctors orders. They were under weight and kept dropping and unfortunately I wasn’t producing breast milk. They were both formula fed and cereal fed. At four months old I started them both on fruits and veggies. By Sux months they were eating the Ferber baby meals that were mushed. Mashed potatoes were their favorite. My children are now 7 and 5 and are the healthiest kids their pediatrician has seen! Not all children are alike. A mother will know when their child is ready to move up the food ladder. I knew when they were ready and started slow and introduced them to solids a little at a time. I also introduced regular milk at a year old because they no longer liked the taste of formula, and ladies if you child shows you signs of not liking the taste of formula taste it yourself and then you will understand why! Lol! I didn’t blame my kiddos for not liking the taste anymore!