How 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