Why shouldn’t I start feeding my infant solids at three months when everyone else tells me it’s OK?
Please remember, all of this information is based on my opinion and research I’ve conducted, I do not consider anything in this blog to be medical advice and should you have more questions to consult with a medical professional.
Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda
I swear, people probably think I’m the baby Nazi… respectfully.
I’ve only had two children, and I’ve learned a LOT along the way. Through research, and conversing with other mothers, some seasoned and some new. A recent topic that keeps being brought up is starting babies on solids.
This is where I’ve become the crazy lady spewing information!
Mothers are being told, by medical professionals, that 3 and 4 months they are “safe” to start solids. Where this isn’t untrue, there are reasonable and factual reasons NOT to start before 6 months. Mothers seem to be jumping right in and feeding them before knowing the risks.
What’s the big deal with starting at three or four months??
Well, here’s the answer…..
Formula and breast milk hold more nutrition for a baby this young. While I’m NOT telling you, food isn’t nutritious for them, I AM telling you it will hold a lower value of nutrition and higher value of calories, which in turn can cause obesity.
Researchers say introducing foods to early can cause eczema, food allergies and can link to chronic diseases like celiac disease and diabetes.
Babies younger than 6 months may not have fully developed the ability to swallow solid foods properly. Solid foods are obviously not easy to swallow like fluid breast milk and formula. A baby is less likely to choke when starting at an older age. Even purees can be choked on. A baby should never be fed leaning back (most high chairs have the recline option these days) if they are unable to sit up on their own, waiting until they can at an older age is suggested. A baby does not have the gag reflex of us adults. They have what is called a tongue thrust reflex. This helps prevent choking, but anything pureed can sneak past and cause choking. Placing food at the front of the baby’s mouth allows them to draw it in themselves which majority of babies under 6 months cannot do.
“My baby seems interested in food, when I eat they watch me and reach out!”
Babies aren’t really interested per say as they’re more just mimicking your actions. Babies will copy your actions, after all, they’re little sponges learning from everything around them. Babies digestive systems aren’t quite ready for solids. Their little gut doesn’t produce the enzymes needed to aid in digestion until 3-4 months and only at 6-9 months does it have the ability to break down carbs, complicated fats, and starches. Doing before then can cause a lot of constipation, throwing up, and gas.
The WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION, THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF FAMILY PHYSICIANS, UNICEF and many prominent pediatricians back this and recommend waiting.
Proven studies show that babies intestinal lining need to have cellular changes before they’re able to process solid foods. Waiting for these cells in the baby’s gut to close helps prevent medical issues. Some of these are known as rashes, food allergies and gas issues. You are less likely to have incidences such as Gastroenteritis, obesity, and diabetes when holding off until six months. When your child can sit up alone, pick up foods and bring them to their own mouth, they are proving clear signs of being ready.
The facts are pretty compelling, here you can find a post at the Analytical Armadillo that has SCIENTIFIC evidence for waiting! Basically, there is no benefit to starting babies before they are biologically ready, we cannot see inside their bellies to see if they’re ready or not. Would you rather have to deal with a baby having a gut infection or waiting a few months to know they’re developed enough to process these foods? Always going with your baby’s cues will be your safest and best bet.