One More Reason You Should Wait to Start Your Baby on Solids

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baby eating solidsHow cute is it when baby starts eating solids? They make those crazy faces from tasting something completely new and then spit it out all over themselves. It's one of those photograph moments. But a moment we shouldn't rush. There are many reasons to delay solids until baby is 6 months old -- it's recommended by the World Health Organization and you want to wait until baby's gut is ready are just two. A new study has also given further evidence that giving your child solids too soon could lead to a predisposition to obesity.

It's fascinating actually. Researchers point out that when we eat those first foods can change the way certain organs in our body develop. Eating solids too soon can program our bodies differently and it could end up causing the propensity to gain weight later on in life. 

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The study came out of the University of Buffalo thanks in part to Professor Mulchand S. Patel, Ph.D. They studied rats, but before you freak out about that, know that Patel has been conducting studies about how soon after birth we start eating solids affects our weight gain for over 20 years. He's an expert. Patel said:

This is the first time that we have shown in our rat model of obesity that there is a resistance to the reversal of this programming effect in adult life. Many American baby foods and juices are high in carbohydrates, mainly simple sugars. Our hypothesis has been that the introduction of baby foods too early in life increases carbohydrate intake, thereby boosting insulin secretion and causing metabolic programming that in turn, predisposes the child to obesity later in life.

It's incredible how we are really programmed at the beginning and imperative we start our kids off with the best eating habits from the moment they first eat any kind of solid food. No pressure, parents! But we have one chance to get this right. As Patel points out, in order to address the obesity epidemic, we do need to start with our children because this programming of caloric intake isn't something we can reverse. In fact, Patel said, "During this critical period, the hypothalamus, which regulates appetite, becomes programmed to drive the individual to eat more food. We found that a period of moderate caloric restriction later in life cannot reverse this programming effect." 

So just how do we avoid this metabolic reprogramming issue? Don't start baby on solids until 6 months -- though Patel says not before 4 to 6 months. This depends on the baby's readiness, but with this information, there really is no reason to rush it. 

When will you start your baby on solids? What do you think of this study?


Image via Michele Zipp

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nonmember avatar trina

Complete coincidence!? Last night I was reading my baby book. I've never looked through it before as my sister just gave it to me at my baby shower. Any who, at 2 months it says I'm eating rice cereal and I had chocolate cake from a party at 3 months. It all escalates from there. I have struggled with obesity my whole life. Hmmm..

B1Bomber B1Bomber

4-6 months has been the recommendation for a long time...and you aren't supposed to give much juice (too much sugar). Baby food is cheaper to make at home anyway, and then baby is eating regular food - carrots, bananas, sweet potatoes, anything you can mash or puree to an acceptable consistency. My son loved bell peppers, asparagus, peas, basically everything except regular potatoes. I stopped giving him baby food before he turned a year - he was feeding himself regular food and is not picky or chubby at all :)

BeckyP. BeckyP.

My son started with oatmeal cereal around 4.5 months, mainly because he started wanting to nurse so much that I couldn't keep up, so I supplemented. He started veggies at 6 months and fruit at 7. I completely see how this could be true. Kind of scary.

mommy... mommytojack0524

It seems like so many moms are just dying to start solids. They look at it as "When is the earliest I can start solids?" and try to get the green light from their pedi as soon as they possibly can. I was in no hurry whatsoever.  

nonmember avatar mboomer

I think people are getting paid alot of money for new research on everything and anything. A mom knows her child better than anyone else or any research and act accordingly. I started to feed natural solid food to my son at 4mths and he has never ever been fat!!!!!He is now 39years old and still very slim. New moms should follow their instinct and forget about all this confusing stuff. It is all about making money. Eat natural food and stay healthy. MB

nonmember avatar Lizz

I hate these "studies", just another excuse for overweight people. It is what you introduce and the lifestyle you promote that will ultimately affect your weight. My cousins were fed a spoonful of very thin cereal the day they came home from the hospital, they are all 20+ now and all have a healthy weight. Stop putting so much into crap studies and learn how to feed your children properly. My daughter showed interest in jar food at 3 months and foods I ate at 6-7 months and was completely off jar food by 8 months. I didn't feed her the usual crap of "hot dogs and chef boyarde". She ate yogurt, veggies, fruit etc.

Brain... BrainyMommy

I didn't let my kids eat solids until they were 8 years old. Until then, it was just milkshakes and ice cream. I wonder if this will cause a problem down the road. 

Mothe... MotherGrace

Thank you, other mommas! It is 100% about the quality of food, rather than when you feed your child. If your child is eating junk food (grilled cheese, French fries, nuggets, uncut juice, sodas) it doesn't matter how old they are when they start eating, they're going to have an obesity problem. We started putting cereal in my daughter's bottle when she was 4 weeks old, and spoon feeding it to her at 6 weeks, bc it fills her up better and she sleeps through the night. Do what you think is best for your child, not what some researcher with a hidden agenda tells you.

lulou lulou

The Slate has an intesting series now going on breastfeeding and immunity and how moms can sense by touch how to pass along antibodies, immunity boosters, what not.  And of course on wet nursing of dogs.  Interesting research also :)

Anyway, I nursed exclusively til 6 months with my first, and she had no interest in solids.  It wasnt even so much the food itself, she was just very independent and didnt want to be fed with a spoon.  Resources on Baby Led Weaning helped us out a lot.  Id never heard of that with her 2 older brothers, but think seeing them eat by themselves may have also had something to do with it.

lulou lulou

BrainyMommy, there are actually some good recipes out there for breastmilk ice cream and yogurt! 

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