Uncanny timing — within just a few days of posting an update about our daughter learning to eat real grown-up food with real grown-up silverware, I heard a blurb on the radio about some new study admonishing parents for introducing solid foods to their babies too early. It especially caught my attention because this latest big worrisome health risk was introducing solids before six months — and we introduced them with Lillian at four.
All I can say is that this is what our pediatrician recommended, and there’s no shortage of reputable websites saying “between 4 and 6 months, here are signs that your baby may be ready” (see here, here, and here for just a few examples). Reading up on it more, it seems like the news story was making the biggest deal about the percentage of babies starting on solid foods before four months — but even so, hearing about the six-month rule came as news to me.
More details about this latest big “you’re doing it wrong, parents” newsflash can be found in this New York Times article, but one of the parts I found most interesting was this little snippet about why the recommendation was raised in the first place:
For at least 20 years, the American Academy of Pediatrics had advised against feeding babies solid food before they turned at least 4 months old. Last year, encouraged by growing evidence of the health benefits of breast milk, the group raised that age, saying babies should be fed nothing but breast milk for six months.
So I guess it’s reassuring that the new recommendation apparently has more to do with promoting breastfeeding (because Breast Is Beast, didn’t you know?) rather than new evidence showing some major harm to introducing solid foods before six months, or something of that nature.
But most reassuring of all? I daresay our daughter isn’t the slightest bit worse off for having her parents unwittingly defy the AAP’s six month recommendation — and I suspect the same applies to the millions of children born and fed by well-meaning parents in the 20+ years before this edict was handed down.
How do you feel about these kinds of changing health recommendations, and the way they’re presented in the media? To any parents reading, when did you start your babies on solid foods? Have the recommendations changed since then? I’d be curious to hear any thoughts on this matter in the comments.