What is the role of pureed foods in the diets of infants in the complementary feeding period?
Background: The complementary feeding period refers to the time when an infant is first introduced to solid foods, alongside milk feeds. It is recommended that the first foods are introduced at around 6 months of age, and are puréed to make them easier for an infant to consume. A different approach to introducing solids that is increasing in popularity is called Baby-Led Weaning. Puréed foods are not offered in this method, and it is not known what implications this may have for an infant’s nutritional intake. One way to look at this would be to determine the contribution of puréed foods to infants’ diets. Aim: The overall aim of this study was to determine the nutritional role of puréed foods in the diets of infants at 7 months of age. Specifically, this study analyses the contribution of puréed foods to nutrient intake and different food groups, and describes the most commonly consumed puréed foods. Methods: Previously collected data from the control group of the BLISS study were analysed. Demographic data was reported for all those that had not withdrawn by 12 months of age (n=89). Participants were included in the dietary analysis if they provided at least 1 day of a 3-day weighed diet record (3d-WDR) at 7 months of age (n=77). The Candidate double checked, and corrected, calculations of the amount of food consumed as reported in the 3d-WDRs. Kai-culator was used for nutrient analysis of the diets. The Candidate modified a food group system, and categorised all foods into one of these 19 food groups. Puréed foods were coded into three main subgroups: “Commercial infant cereal (Stage 1)”, “Other puréed commercial foods (Stage 1)”, and “Other puréed foods”. Exported data from Kai-culator were combined with the puréed food coding system, and Stata was used to perform the descriptive statistical analyses. Results: The average age of introduction of complementary foods in this sample was 22.4weeks (around 5 months). The average duration of exclusive breastfeeding was 13.7 weeks (3.5 months). At 7 months of age, puréed foods contributed a daily average of 4% of energy to the infants’ diets. These puréed foods contributed a significant amount to dietary fibre intake (28%), and made useful contributions to iron (10%) and vitamin C intakes (11%). The most commonly consumed puréed foods were fruit, vegetables, and commercial infant cereals (Stage 1). Conclusion: It appears from this analysis that puréed foods make a very small contribution to infants’ diets at 7 months of age in terms of energy, fat and protein intakes. However, puréed foods do contribute meaningful amounts to dietary fibre, iron and vitamin C intakes. Those infants who are not offered puréed foods at this age, for instance if they are following Baby-Led Weaning, would need to replace these nutrients using suitable alternatives, such as finger foods.
Advisor: Heath, Anne Louise; Fleming, Liz; Daniels, Lisa
Degree Name: Master of Dietetics
Degree Discipline: Human Nutrition
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: complementary foods, infants, puréed foods, baby-led weaning, infant feeding, energy, fat, protein, carbohydrates, dietary fibre, iron, vitamin C, zinc.
Research Type: Thesis