Monday, May 3, 2010
Starting Solids? Not So Fast!
One of the most anticipated milestones in the first 6 months of age is that first bite of solid food. I can still picture the faces of my kids with sweet potato or green peas smeared all over them!
Working with parents, I find that starting solids is still something parents and grandparents REALLY look forward to. It's also something to be touted in those conversations of "my baby's doing this--what's your baby doing?"
Well as exciting as that first bite might be, research shows that it's one Kodak moment that may be best put off--at least for a month or two. The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at the BMI of 42 year olds and compared it to the age at which they started eating solids. The study showed that the later the introduction of solid foods,(up to 6 months) the lower the risk of overweight at age 42.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months--meaning breastfed infants don't need solids until about that time. That said, there are a small number of infants who are ready for solids before 6 months. In my experience, that usually includes babies who are born large and are developmentally ready for solids before then. On the other hand, when babies go through a growth spurt, it is easy to confuse this short period of increased demand in breastfeeding to a need for solids.
The bottom line: use your baby's developmental cues, not his age, to determine if he is ready for solids. If he has good control of his head and neck, is sitting with support and seems genuinely interested in what you are eating, it may be time to consider solid foods. Remember that rushing this milestone may not be good for your child's waistline in the future!