Some parents introduce food, drink too soon


Claudia Boyd-Barrett

posted in Parenting

Are you starting your baby on solid food or introducing liquids other than breast milk or infant formula? Make sure you don’t rush it.

A new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests more than 1 in 10 parents introduce food or drink to their babies before they turn 4 months old. That’s way too early, health experts agree.

Babies are usually ready to try solid food between 4 and 6 months, although it’s best to check with your doctor beforehand. There’s some debate over the exact best time within this window to introduce solids such as infant cereal or pureed single-ingredient food, and it may depend on your baby’s signs of readiness.

As far as drinks, babies younger than 6 months old should only have breast milk or formula.


The study analyzed survey data on nearly 1,500 children ages 6 months to 3 years from across the United States. Their parents answered questions about when they introduced their children to food and drink other than breast milk or infant formula, including baby food, juice, cow’s milk and water.

More than 16 percent of parents introduced their children to food or drink earlier than 4 months, the researchers found. That’s a lower number than in previous studies, but still too high, they noted.

Introducing solid food too early can lead to nutritional deficiencies because babies may fill up on the solids and not get the nourishment they need from nursing. Giving water to a young baby can be dangerous. Babies under 6 months old can get all the water they need from breast milk or formula.

Need more information on introducing solids? Check out BabyCenter’s guide to feeding your baby solid food.

At what age did you or do you plan to introduce solid food to your baby and why?

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