Objectives: Little is known about the practice of introducing complementary feeding across Europe. We aim at describing times of solid introduction in healthy infants in 5 European countries.
Materials and methods: Between October 2002 and June 2004, 1678 healthy term infants were either breast-fed (BF) for at least 4 months (n = 588) or study formula-fed (FF) (n = 1090) with different protein contents. Three-day-weighed food protocols were obtained at ages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 12 completed months.
Results: Solids were introduced earlier in FF infants (median 19 weeks, interquartile range 17-21) than BF infants (median 21 weeks, interquartile range 19-24). Some 37.2% of FF infants and 17.2% of BF infants received solid foods at 4 completed months, which is earlier than recommended in Europe. Solids had been introduced at 7 completed months in 99.3% of FF infants and 97.7% of BF infants, respectively. Belgium had the highest percentage of solids feeding in FF infants at 3 (15.8%) and 4 (55.6%) completed months, and in BF infants at 4 (43%) and 5 (84.8%) completed months. Multiple regression showed low maternal age, low education level, and maternal smoking to predictors an early introduction of solids at 3 and 4 completed months.
Conclusions: Complementary feeding is introduced earlier than recommended in a sizeable number of infants, particularly among FF infants. Country- and population-specific approaches to adequately inform parents should be explored.