This study identified situations in which infants could reach unhealthy weights, even while following complementary feeding guidelines, suggesting that current recommended portion sizes should be tightened.
In 2018, the study team developed a computational simulation model to capture feeding behaviors, activity levels, metabolism, and body size of infants from 6 months to 1 year. Daily food intake of virtual infants based on feeding recommendations translated to changes in body weight. Next, simulations tested the impact of the following complementary feeding recommendations that provided amount, type, and timing of foods: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Enfamil, and Similac.
When virtual caregivers fed infants according to the four different guides, none of the simulated situations resulted in normal weight at 12 months when infants were also being breastfed along average observed patterns. Reducing breast milk portions in half while caregivers fed infants according to complementary feeding guidelines resulted in overweight BMIs between 9 and 11 months for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Enfamil guidelines. Cutting breast milk portions in half also led to infants reaching unhealthy underweight BMI percentiles between 7 and 11 months for female and male infants when caregivers followed Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Similac guidelines.
There are several recommendations advising caregivers when and how to introduce solid food to infants. These complementary feeding guides vary in terms of the recommendations for timing and portions. The objective of this study is to determine the impact of following different guidelines on weight trajectories of infants.