Background: Recommendations for the introduction of solids and fluids to an infant’s diet have changed over the past decade. Since these changes, there has been minimal research to determine patterns in the introduction of foods and fluids to infants.
Methods: This retrospective cohort study surveyed mothers who birthed in Queensland, Australia, from February 1 to May 31, 2010, around 4 months postpartum. Frequencies of foods and fluids given to infants at 4, 8, 13, and 17 weeks were described. Logistic regression determined associations between infant feeding practices, the introduction of other foods and fluids at 17 weeks, and sociodemographic characteristics.
Results: Response rate was 35.8%. At 17 weeks, 68% of infants were breastfed and 33% exclusively breastfed. Solids and water had been introduced in 8.6% and 35.0% of infants, respectively. The introduction of solids by 17 weeks was associated with younger maternal age and the infant being given water and infant formula at 4 weeks. The infant being given water at 17 weeks was associated with younger maternal age, the infant being given infant formula at 4 weeks, level of education, relative socioeconomic disadvantage, parity, and birth facility.
Conclusion: Over the past decade, there has been a significant reduction in the proportion of infants in Australia who have been given solids by 17 weeks. Sociodemographic characteristics and formula feeding practices at 4 weeks were associated with the introduction of solids and water by 17 weeks. Further research should examine these barriers to improve compliance with current infant feeding recommendations.