Objective: As infants transition from a milk-based diet to one that includes most food groups, the timing of the transition, how infants are fed, and the quality of their diet can have important health implications. Our objective is to describe these factors for US infants.
Methods: We analyzed data from the Infant Feeding Practices Study II. Sample sizes varied for relevant questions from approximately 1600 to approximately 2400. We analyzed the prevalence of 14 feeding practices and their association with the mothers' education and also examined participants' use of commercial baby foods.
Results: Approximately 21% of the mothers introduced solid foods before 4 months; 7% introduced solids after 6 months. Twenty-nine percent of the mothers introduced > 3 new foods per week to infants aged 5 to 10 months. Approximately 20% of the mothers fed juice before 6 months, fed cow's milk before 12 months, and fed infants < 5 times per day after 5 months. Fourteen percent of the mothers chewed food for their infant. Approximately 15% of the mothers fed < 1 serving daily of either a fruit or vegetable to infants aged > or = 9 months, half added salt to their infant's food, and more than one third who added salt used noniodized salt. Approximately 20% fed reduced-fat cow's milk at 1 year. Almost half of the 10-month-old infants had eaten restaurant food in a restaurant in the previous week, 22% had eaten carry-out food, and 28% had eaten either type of restaurant food > or = 2 times. The prevalence of 8 of the 14 unhealthful infant feeding practices we examined was inversely associated with maternal education.
Conclusions: Nutrition and feeding guidance should be especially targeted to mothers with a high school education or less.