shutterstock_39445345In a new study published today in the April issue of Pediatrics, 40% of moms started feeding babies  solid foods before the baby was four months of age. And that:

Mothers who introduced solid food before 4 months were more likely to be younger, unmarried, have less education or be participating in the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program.

OK, new study about introducing solid foods, you sound a little bit classist to me. I personally didn’t start any of my kids on solids until they were much, much older, because I wanted to breastfeed exclusively and I knew from my vast hours of research holding other  people’s babies that babies who ate solid foods had very horrible smelling diapers. I don’t know if moms who started their babies on solids did so because they were “uneducated” as this study suggests, and I think it has more to do with what other moms told them to do.  I know my own mother wanted me to start my kids on rice cereal right around four months, because that is what pediatricians suggested back in the day.That is what my own mother did when she had babies. I think a lot of women of a certain age were probably told the same thing by their own mothers. One really freaky finding in this study:

8% said they introduced solid food as early as 1 month or younger, including 11% who formula-fed only and 5% who breast-fed only.

Whaaaat? I can’t imagine anyone giving a baby who is younger than the expiration date on most yogurts solid foods. How does one even do that? I suppose putting cereal mixed with formula in a bottle but that just seems so young. Do moms really do that?

Although 56% of moms who introduced solids early said a medical provider recommended that their baby begin eating solid food early: “We don’t know actually what advice the health care provider gave. But at least this was the perception the parents got — that this was the time to begin solids,” says Scanlon.

I think I am having such a difficult time believing this because it is so beyond the realm of my own personal experiences. I know my own pediatrician just asked me how nursing was going at my four month checks and made sure my kids were gaining properly and told me to keep doing what I was doing. I didn’t even give them baby cereal until they were older than eight months. I think I was mainly worried that if I started giving them actual food they would stop nursing as often and mess up my milk supply. Plus, bad diapers.

I suppose it is possible that there are “unwed” moms out there with “less education” who are feeding babies solid foods or buying their 6-month-olds Happy Meals, but I have yet to see any moms I know doing so, or even starting baby food at that young of an age. Yeah, yeah, I don’t fall into that demographic, but I still find it surprising. I think this means the next time you moms with newborns take them into their checkups, most of your pediatricians will remind you not to start solids too early. I just thought most moms, regardless of education level and marital status, sorta knew this already.

(Photo: Marcel Jancovic/shutterstock)