There should be no recommendation for change to the age of introduction of other foods to breastfed infants.
For formula fed infants, there may be a case for widening the diet from 3-4 months onwards, as total dependence on a single dehydrated industrial powder is inherently risky; moderation and variety are the keys to dietary safety. Infant body stores are depleted by 4 months and numerous deficencies as a result of formula feeding have been recorded.
For breastfed infants there is no such reason to widen the diet. Breastmilk has evolved as a complete food which exposes the infant to all the foods in the mother’s diet, allowing the child to adapt to and tolerate the cultural diet. Immune cells and microbes in breastmilk are important to the development of a normal body microbiome, which programmes the child for health and growth lifelong. Introducing other foods too early may interfere with the construction fo the gut as the gut microbiome changes once the diet is widened.
This is what introducing solids earlier than the evidence-based WHO/NHMRC/NHS recommended age of round 6 months means for breastfed infants and their mothers:
• Decreased maternal milk supply, and likely premature weaning from the breast
• For breastfed infants, more digestive upsets, gut and respiratory infections, and higher stress levels – during a peak vaccination/growth period; more childhood cancers; greater risk of diabetes and SUDIs
• For their mothers, decreased recovery time, premature return of menses, loss of lactational hormones and metabolic efficiency; need for artificial contraception or else decreased interbirth intervals due to greater risk of pregnancy; increase in maternal stress; increase in illness from CVD and diabetes; additional deaths from reproductive cancers (breast, ovarian, uterine).
• Additional needless work and unpleasantness for caregivers (usually mothers)
• No change in population allergy rates. [Allergy rates rose from the era of formula introduction to whole populations, in exactly the period when most children were exposed to other foods from 3-4 months. 4 months was recommended by the AAP in 1980, and in practice meant 3-4 months. The WHO 2000+ recommendation to wait until 6 months has not been implemented in most western societies, yet is blamed for the rise in allergy that in fact is the result of intergenerational transmission of immune disorder from the generations exposed to neonatal infant formula and solids from 3-4 months.]
Governments and allergists tend to make blanket recommendations for all infants, although the results will be different in children with a family history of allergy.
Why is there such determination by industry-funded groups to keep pushing for 3-4 months? Protecting the myth of formula equivalence with breastfeeding is the result of such blanket recommendations: yet 6 months EFF is possibly unsafe, a new experiment and should result in all sort sof subtle deficiencies if past experience and basci science are any guide. The 4 months recommendation was right for the formula-fed; indeed that was the reason given for it by the 1980 AAP Committee Chair responsible for it. And they acknowledged that there might be “some disadvantage” to the breastfed, decades before the research on epigenetics and the microbiome and the presence in breastmilk of multiple cells including pluripotent stem cells and the recently discovered completely new type of cell found in breastmilk, the ILC….
It is truly shameful that the AAP and other paediatric bodies do so little to highlight the real differences between breastfed infants and formula fed ones. And that only brave individuals have condemned the Trump Administration’s rejection of the WHO Code and its bullying of other smaller nations to support it – as happened under Reagan in 1981. Read all about that and much more in Milk Matters. Or the e-book Infant Formula and Modern Epidemics: the Milk Hypothesis..