Introduction of complementary foods in Sweden and impact of maternal education on feeding practices

Public Health Nutr. 2017 Apr;20(6):1054-1062. doi: 10.1017/S1368980016003104. Epub 2016 Dec 5.


Objective: To describe the introduction of complementary foods in a population-based cohort in relation to recommendations and explore the possible impact of maternal education on infant feeding practices.

Design: Prospective data from the All Babies in Southeast Sweden (ABIS) cohort study were used. The ABIS study invited all infants born in south-east Sweden during October 1997-October 1999 (n 21 700) to participate. A questionnaire was completed for 16 022 infants. During the infants' first year parents continuously filed in a diary covering introduction of foods.

Setting: Sweden.

Subjects: Infants (n 9727) with completed food diaries.

Results: Potatoes, vegetables, fruits/berries and porridge were the foods first introduced, with a median introduction between 19 and 22 weeks, followed by introduction of meat, cow's milk, follow-on formula and sour milk/yoghurt between 24 and 27 weeks. Early introduction of any food, before 16 weeks, occurred for 27 % of the infants and was more common in infants of mothers with low education. Overall, potatoes (14·7 %), vegetables (11·1 %), fruits/berries (8·5 %), porridge (7·4 %) and follow-on formula (2·7 %) were the foods most frequently introduced early. The majority of infants (≥70 %) were introduced to potatoes, vegetables, fruits/berries and porridge during concurrent breast-feeding, but introduction during concurrent breast-feeding was less common in infants of mothers with low education.

Conclusions: Most infants were introduced to complementary foods timely in relation to recommendations. Low maternal education was associated with earlier introduction of complementary foods and less introduction during concurrent breast-feeding. Still, the results indicated exposure to fewer foods at 12 months in infants of mothers with low education.

Keywords: Breast-feeding; Complementary food; Education; Food diary; Infant feeding.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet Records
  • Diet*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Life Style
  • Mothers / education*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sweden
  • Weaning