(NaturalNews) A British child health expert has stated that feeding babies pureed food is not only unnecessary, but may even cause them health problems. Gill Rapley is the deputy director of Unicef's UK Baby Friendly Initiative, and has been a health professional for 25 years. However, her recent comments were made only as an individual and were not meant to represent the position of Unicef.
"I found so many parents were coming to me with the same problems -- 'my child is constipated, my child is really picky'," Rapley said, "and they couldn't get them onto second stage baby food."
Rapley has developed an infant feeding program called Baby-Led Weaning. Under Rapley's plan, children should be exclusively milk-fed for the first six months of life, at which point regular solid food should be introduced into their diets.
"Feeding a baby any other food [than milk] during the first six months would dilute the nutritional value of milk and might even be harmful to the baby's health," Rapley said, citing 2002 research by the World Health Organization.
Feeding children pureed food may delay the development of chewing skills, Rapley says. It also prevents children from being able to gauge or control how much they eat, which she says may lead to constipation or picky eating.
"Sound scientific research and government advice now agree that there is no ... window of a baby's development in which they need something more than milk and less than solids," she said.
Pediatric gastroenterologist David Candy gave cautious support to Rapley's program, but cautioned that there is no exact age at which children should be fed solids or weaned, since every child develops at a different rate.
"Some babies could manage this, but others may not have the oromotor skills necessary to chew the food," he said.