Aim: The study aimed to document the dietary patterns of infants and determine the development of feeding difficulties as perceived by the mother according to the age at which lumpy solids were introduced into the diet.
Study design: Information was collected from a geographically representative population of 9360 mothers of infants born in 1991/92, part of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood (ALSPAC). Self-completion questionnaires enquiring about the foods and drinks consumed by the infant and any difficulties experienced by the mothers in feeding her child at both 6 months and 15 months of age were collected.
Methods: Infants were divided into three groups based on the age at which they were first introduced to 'lumpy' solids: 10.7% were introduced before 6 months of age, 71.7% were introduced between 6 and 9 months and 17.6% were introduced after 10 months of age. The foods eaten by those introduced before 6 months and after 10 months were compared to those introduced between 6 and 9 months. Behaviours and problems as reported by the mother were also assessed.
Results: Those infants who were introduced to lumpy solids at the earliest ages consumed a greater variety of family foods at the age of 6 months, while those introduced at 10 months or later had been given fewer solids of all types by 6 months of age and at 15 months were significantly less likely to be having family foods when compared to those introduced between 6 and 9 months. At each age, those introduced late (10 months or older) to lumps were more difficult to feed and had more definite likes and dislikes.
Conclusions: A significant difference was observed in the variety of foods given to infants at both 6 and 15 months according to the age at which they began to have lumps in their food, and feeding difficulties were more likely to occur when lumps were introduced at or after 10 months of age.