Preschool and Boys
Scrambled eggs for baby?
“Start him earlier, and he’ll do better.”
Many parents believe that the earlier a child starts doing something, the better that child is likely to be at it. Children who start reading earlier are more likely to grow up to be better readers, right?
Let me give you an example from another field where the facts are not in dispute: infant nutrition. I'm old enough to remember the era three decades ago when parents would compete by comparing what their babies were eating. "My little Johnny was eating scrambled eggs when he was six months old," one proud mother might say.
"That's nothing. My Emily was eating roast beef and mashed potatoes when she was just three months old. Of course we had to purée it for her first."
"So?" the third mother says. "My Edward was eating pâté de foie gras when he was just four weeks. No purée required!"
In the 1980's, Dr. Frank Oski - then chairman of the department of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Medical School - published a series of studies showing that babies who start eating solid food earlier do not do better, as a rule. On the contrary, Dr. Oski's studies showed that babies who consumed cows' milk, scrambled eggs, cheese etc. prior to one year of age were substantially more likely to have problems such as gastrointestinal bleeding, milk allergy, etc. Starting earlier doesn't help babies do it better; in fact starting earlier can harm babies. Family physicians and pediatricians nowadays routinely counsel parents NOT to give cows' milk, cheese, eggs, and many other foods to babies until the child is at least one year of age.
The harm may not be apparent right away. Some of the negative effects Dr. Oski documented don’t show up for years. The baby who is given cow's milk to drink at two months of age may thrive on it - or seem to be thriving. Years later, however, that baby is much more likely to develop chronic problems such as milk allergy.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education. © 2006 NASSPE
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