Health issues begin in infancy with inappropriate weaning
As part of Nourish Children Week, the INDI is highlighting to parents the importance of good weaning practices for their babies. Over 20% of mothers in Ireland wean their infants onto solid food prior to 12 weeks of age – this is too early for solid food introduction. Findings have indicated that a significant proportion of 6 month old Irish infants consume foods high in energy, saturated fats, salt, and refined sugars (FSAI Best Practice for Infant Feeding in Ireland, 2012).
In a recent piece of research by Dietitian, Anne Marie Bennett showed that 82% of mothers with an infant under 30 months of age reported wanting more weaning information. This same research showed that while commercial baby foods complied with baby food legislation, 15% were intrinsically high in sugar and fat, or contained added salt.
The inclusion of high-sugar, high-salt foods at this age is a public health risk. If sustained, this eating pattern may increase the risk of overweight and obesity, as well as chronic diseases associated with obesity such as hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes. This latter condition had up until recently been seen only in adulthood but in line with the growing incidence of childhood obesity, is now seen more and more in children (FSAI 2012, Scientific Recommendations for a National Infant Feeding Policy, 2nd Edition).
Anne Marie Benett and INDI Paediatric Dietitian spokeperson were interviewed for the Irish Examiner Feel Good supplement on this topic see http://www.irishexaminer.com/feelgood
For information on weaning and spoon feeding go to the babies and childhood nutrition section on www.new.indi.ie