Science

Babies Signal When Breastfeeding Should Stop, Pediatricians Say No Solid Food For 6 Months

By Hilda Scott , Mar 25, 2013 02:04 PM EDT

Mothers should look for signals from their infants before introducing them to solid foods. Pediatricians say that giving babies solid food before their bodies can handle it can be dangerous for the infants.

Pediatricians say that parents should understand their babies' signals that indicate that they are ready for solid food. These signals include sitting up or being able to take food off an eating utensil.

Pediatricians suggest that babies should be on breast milk or formula until they reach the age of at least 6 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics first said that 4 months was acceptable, a rule that was advised for 20 years. Evidence supporting the health benefits of feeding babies breast milk caused experts to increase the age to 6 months. Although the group said that babies should be fed only breast milk for those first six months, mothers have the option of turning to baby formula instead.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a nationwide survey and found that many mothers are giving babies solid food too soon. According to the data obtained from 1,334 mothers, 40 percent gave their baby solid food before they reached 4 months of age and 9 percent started their babies as early as 4 weeks old. A study detailing the results was published Monday (March 25) in the journal, Pediatrics.

As the New York Time reports, "Clearly we need better dissemination of the recommendations on solid food introduction. Health care providers need to provide clear and accurate guidance, and then provide support to help parents carry out those recommended practices," said Kelley Scanlon, an epidemiologist with the C.D.C.

Many pediatricians understand that parents may experience difficulties following the implemented rule that advises not to feed babies solid food for six months. They insist that parents stick with breast milk or formula, and it's not a good idea to stray from the rules.

"When a baby is ready to start eating food, he will put his hands in his mouth, and you will see him actually making chewing motions. At 2, 3 months, they can't even hold their heads up well, and they can't sit, making it difficult, if not dangerous, to put solid food in their mouths," said Dr. T J Gold, a pediatrician with Tribeca Pediatrics in Brooklyn, NY. 

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