Paging Rosie: When to Introduce Solids
Let’s get to the bottom of the news surrounding the American Academy of Pediatrics’ revised recommendations for introducing solids:
There are many transitions in a baby’s life that can cause stress for parents, especially first time parents. One of those is the transition from an exclusively liquid diet of breast milk or formula to a diet that also incorporates solids. I remember with my first son, it completely blew my mind the concept of actually feeding him solids in addition to breast milk. First of all, I had no idea what to cook for babies, secondly I was totally freaked out by the concept of him choking and third of all, I just couldn’t get my head around putting anything but milk into his wee mouth…what would happen? I am the Mom, after all, that wanted to drive outside the ER, put the car in neutral, and give him a peanut, so that if indeed he had an allergic reaction we would be in the right place (I still don’t think this is totally crazy, by the way). To say I was a little paranoid is an understatement. This is why education is so important and why we must surround ourselves with people and sources that we trust to help us navigate through such stages so we can be sure we are doing things in the best way for our family and thus don’t have to be overwhelmed with worry, missing out on the joys of these milestone moments.
Solids have been in the news a lot lately, with a lot of people having a lot to say about when to introduce them. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) revised their recommendation a year ago from introducing solids between 4-6 months to 6 months, and that babies should be exclusively breastfed (or fed formula when breastfeeding is not possible) up until that point. Why has this been in the news again, considering this adjustment to the recommendations was made a year ago? The reason is that a recent study by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) found that a large number of mothers were not following the new guidelines, in some cases under the advice of their doctors. It is important to note that introducing solids too early is associated with things such as obesity, celiac disease, diabetes and eczema. It is also important to understand that introducing solids when a child is not able to properly hold up their head can pose a choking risk. I also want to dispel the myth that eating more solids is going to dramatically help a child sleep through the night. The truth is, sleeping through the night is just as possible for exclusively breast or bottle fed children. It is a learned ability rather than a side effect of children being overly ‘full’.
While it can sometimes be hard to fight habit or advice from overly helpful family members and friends, it is important to remember that science and research helps us improve our recommendations over time to make present and future generations healthier than the last. Our parents were going on information that they had at the time but now we have more information and up-to-date research at our finger tips. The AAP’s research on the implications of introducing solids too early, combined with the choking hazards and the fact that the introducing solids early won’t help you reach that goal of sleeping through the night that you so long for, it doesn’t make sense not to follow the revised guidelines. I promise your babies will have a lifetime of chewing ahead of them, so no need to start until your baby is ready at the current recommendation of 6 months. And try to enjoy the months of not having to whip up some pureed squash and having it hurled at you as your wee one tries to navigate a spoon!
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