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What’s the fuss about solids?

Even though doctors recommend waiting until babies are 6 months or older to feed them solid foods, a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study indicates parents are introducing solids too early.

Babies are ready for solid food when their birth weight has doubled, they have head and neck control, can sit up with support, can demonstrate when they are full (turn their head away or no longer open their mouths) and show interest in foods others are eating, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. These skills are usually developed between 4 and 6 months.

We reached out to our clinical nutrition team at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota for more insight. Introducing solids before the age of 6 months could result in increased risk of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes, they said. Breast milk and infant formula in adequate volumes will meet a baby’s nutrition needs through the age of 4 to 6 months with the exception of vitamin D for breastfed babies (supplementation is required).

While it doesn’t matter for most babies which foods are introduced first, breastfed babies benefit from meat-containing baby foods initially. Meat is a good source of iron and zinc, two nutrients important for brain development.

Last week we shared this New York Times story on introducing solids too soon on our Facebook page and asked parents when they first fed their children solids and what items they introduced. Most waited until their infants were 6 months or later. When they introduced solids, they tended to be fruits and veggies and items like sweet potatoes and avocados. One parent said she fed her child steak.

When did you introduce solids? What was your baby’s first solid food?