Commercial baby food consumption and dietary variety in a statewide sample of infants receiving benefits from the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children

Kristen M Hurley, Maureen M Black
Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2010, 110 (10): 1537-41
Dietary variety and exposure to fruits and vegetables in infancy have been associated with nutritional benefits and later acceptance of these foods. The objective of this study was to examine the prevalence of fruit and vegetable commercial baby food consumption and its relation to dietary variety during infancy. A cross-sectional statewide telephone survey of 733 Maryland mothers and infants receiving benefits from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) was conducted between July 2004 and July 2005. A 24-hour dietary recall was examined to assess infant dietary variety. Among infants from birth to age 5 months, 54% had consumed complementary foods in the past 24 hours; 60% received commercial baby foods. Among infants aged 6 to 12 months, 98% had consumed complementary foods in the past 24 hours; 81% received commercial baby foods. In the latter age range, the average daily number of different types of fruits and vegetables consumed was 1.5±1.2, range 0 to 6). In a multivariate model, infants aged 6 to 12 months who received commercial baby foods consumed a greater variety of fruits and vegetables (β=.54, 95% confidence interval 0.26-0.84; P<0.001) than infants who did not, characterized by a diet that was lower in white potatoes (14% vs 22%) and higher in dark-green (6% vs 5%) and deep-yellow (35% vs 10%) vegetables. Commercial baby food is consumed by a majority of WIC infants, although many mothers introduce it before the recommended age of 6 months. Among infants aged 6 to 12 months, commercial baby food is associated with dietary variety in fruits and vegetables. By encouraging consumption of fruits and vegetables after 6 months of age, either through the provision of commercial baby foods and/or education and resources related to the preparation of fruits and vegetables for infants, WIC can increase dietary variety and appropriate introduction of complementary foods among infants.

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