Mothers are introducing solid food to their babies months too soon, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC administered a survey to 1,334 mothers in the United States, asking what age their baby was when they were given solid food. Forty percent responded they began to feed their baby solid food before they were four months old. The recommended age for solid food is four months. Even more alarming — 9 percent of mothers stated they fed their baby solid food at just four weeks old.
It is dangerous to feed a baby younger than four months solid food because they cannot lift their head properly (choking is a risk) and also their gut has not developed the bacteria needed to break down solid food yet. For healthy development, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies to be breastfed up to six months old.
The study revealed most women did not know at what age their baby was supposed to be given solid food. Researchers also discovered socioeconomic factors had an impact — younger, single women with low income and less education introduced solid food to their babies earlier. The cost of baby formula and the difficulty of breastfeeding for some may also be linked to the problem. In some instances, women reported a doctor told them it was okay to go ahead and feed their baby solid food before four months.
For guidelines on what to feed your baby when, visit the March of Dimes website.