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WEIGHT AND CUES FROM BABY PROVIDE GUIDE TO INFANT FEEDING DECISIONS, NEW RESEARCH SHOWS

 WEIGHT AND CUES FROM BABY PROVIDE GUIDE TO
 INFANT FEEDING DECISIONS, NEW RESEARCH SHOWS
 ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Research released today by Gerber Products Company suggests that the commonly accepted 4 to 6 month age guideline for starting infants on solid foods may actually miss one in four babies who are developmentally ready to begin supplemental foods earlier.
 The research indicates that another common guideline -- a weight of 13 pounds and double the infant's birthweight -- along with other cues from the baby may more accurately signal that he or she is ready to eat solid food, according to Frances Coletta, Ph.D., R.D., manager of nutrition and child development baby care of Gerber Products Company.
 The Gerber Infant Nutrition Survey of 1,600 parents of newborns nationwide found that healthy, growing babies vary widely in growth and caloric intake. By age 3 months, 25 percent of the children surveyed had reached the weight guideline of 13 pounds and double their birthweight. One-half of the infants had reached the weight guideline by age 4 months.
 The survey also found that babies who met the weight guideline at age 3 months and were fed supplemental foods were healthy and growing, suggesting that they were developmentally ready to consume those foods.
 "One of the most frequent questions asked by parents who call our toll-free number is 'When should I start giving my baby solid foods?'" Coletta said in a speech to the International Food Media Conference meeting in Orlando.
 "There is no simple answer to their questions because every baby is an individual who develops at his or her own rate," Coletta said. "Therefore, parents need to be alert to various signals and eating cues that babies give, indicating when they are developmentally ready for supplemental foods."
 To help parents decide whether their children are ready to add supplemental foods to their diet of breast milk or formula, Gerber has designed a developmental feeding program, Coletta said. The program helps parents "tune in" to eating readiness cues from their baby.
 In addition to weight, these cues include:
 -- Physical cues, such as the ability to hold up the head, sit with less help from the parent, and reach for a toy.
 -- Mealtime cues, such as leaning forward as a spoon approaches, reaching for the spoon or parent's hand, and opening the mouth.
 -- Mouth cues, such as the mouth opening easily when the spoon touches the lip, the tongue moving gently back and forth as food enters, and food staying in the mouth.
 -- Learning cues, such as the baby's mouth movements steadily improving during the first week of spoon feeding.
 "The thing I find most exciting in the developmental feeding program is the tremendous potential for helping parents look at their babies in a different way," said Suzanne Morris, Ph.D., director of New Visions in Faber, Va., and an expert in feeding skills.
 "It will help them recognize that there is a wonderful internal wisdom in children, that kids know what they need and are drawn to things that take them to the next step of development," said Morris, who served as a consultant to Gerber on this program.
 The latest research was drawn from the seventh in a series of Gerber Infant Nutrition Surveys, which started in 1972. Gerber Products Company, based in Fremont, Mich., is the leading provider of food, clothing and care items for families with infants and young children.
 -0- 2/19/92
 /CONTACT: Steven Poole of Gerber Products, 616-928-2744, or Mary Swanton of Hill and Knowlton, 312-565-1200, for Gerber Products/ CO: Gerber Products Company ST: Florida IN: FOD SU: ECO


CK -- NY044 -- 0442 02/19/92 12:10 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 19, 1992
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