ATLANTA. (CBS Local) – A pair of new studies on infant health have found that many babies in the U.S. are being given solid food too early and one type of snack may be delaying their development.
Researchers from the CDC have found that between 20 and 40 percent of U.S. parents are giving their children solid food before they are four months old. Health officials recommend parents should hold off on switching to food for at least six months.
“Introducing babies to complementary foods too early can cause them to miss out on important nutrients that come from breast milk and infant formula,” lead investigator Chloe M. Barrera said in a press release.
The CDC studied the diets of 1,482 U.S. children between the ages of six and 36 months. The agency found that 38 percent of babies were switching from formula to food in their fifth month and only 13 percent of parents waited until the child’s seventh month.
Once an infant reaches the point where they’re eating food, researchers are cautioning parents to beware of one particular snack: food pouches.
The easily accessible, puréed fruits and vegetables found inside the squeeze packs have become a busy parent’s dream. “Parents are feeling reassured that their kids are getting the fruits and vegetables because they’re having the pouches that have all these vegetables mixed in,” Dr. Natalie Muth in The New York Times.
Pediatricians say this easy meal is actually creating some potentially harmful habits. The overuse of pouches is reportedly hurting a young child’s development when it comes to learning how to chew and swallow solid food, use spoons and forks and improve their speech.
“If you’re just given four to five pouches a day to just suck out of there, you may not be developing the other feeding skills that you need to,” speech-language pathologist Kara Larson told The Times.
Experts added that the pouches also contribute to overeating as well. “Kids are probably getting these things a lot when they’re not actually hungry,” Dr. Muth added. The doctor claims a parent who uses pouches as a reward “sets up snacking as being a habit that happens frequently throughout the day or for reasons other than hunger.”