Diet diversity, growth and adiposity in healthy breastfed infants fed homemade complementary foods

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Infant complementary feeding is important for establishing food preferences. Few studies exist on the effects of infant complementary feeding choices (food preparation methods) on dietary intake, growth or adiposity. We examined whether provision of homemade complementary food is associated with the development of dietary diversity, nutrient intakes and quality of infant growth.


Secondary analysis of feeding practices from a randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation in 132 healthy breastfed 1-month-old infants from Montréal, Canada. This longitudinal study used diet records, anthropometric and body composition data (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) from assessments that occurred when infants were 6, 9, 12 and 36 months of age. Infants were grouped into three categories of food preparation method on the basis of whether or not they had consumed homemade or commercial meat or fruit and vegetable by 9 months (homemade, commercial and both). Multivariable regression controlled for family income, maternal education and infant sex.


Dietary data were available for 65 infants. By 9 months, 22% of infants had exclusively received homemade (n = 14), 14 infants had exclusively received commercial and 37 infants had received both. The development of dietary diversity (number of World Health Organization-recommended food groups) was higher (0.76 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.14, 1.38); P<0.05) in the homemade group versus commercial. Energy and nutrient intakes did not differ by group over time. The homemade group had 773 g (-1364, - 182; P<0.01) lower whole-body fat mass and 7.1% (-12.6, - 1.6; P<0.05) lower % body fat at 12 months compared with the reference group (both homemade and commercial). Reduced whole-body fat mass in the homemade group persisted at 36 months (-696 g (95% CI: - 1341, - 52); P<0.05). There were no differences between groups for changes in growth Z-scores (length-for-age, weight-for-age and body mass index-for-age).


Provision of homemade complementary food is associated with increased dietary diversity during the first year of life and reduced adiposity.

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