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Head of parenting section (baby, pregnancy, family)
The French Childhood Food Sector (SFAE) unveils the first results of the 6th edition of the Nutri-bébé study. This vast survey makes it possible to obtain a snapshot of the food practices and nutritional intake of children aged 0 to 3 in metropolitan France. What to take away from this study? Doctissimo tells you everything.
The only survey in France and in Europe to give a very detailed view of food practices in babies aged 0 to 3 years, the Nutri-bébé study was born in 1981, at a time when pediatric nutrition was not even taught in Medical School. Conducted every 8 years, the survey assesses the food practices and consumption of young children as well as their nutritional intake through a strict and scientifically validated methodology. The objective of the 2022 survey is to update the findings of the study conducted in 2013 and to identify the gaps between official recommendations and the reality on the ground.
Breastfeeding and consumption of cow’s milk: practices far removed from the recommendations
According to the Nutri-bébé 2022 survey conducted between March 10 and July 20, 2022 on 880 children between 15 days and 3 years old (divided into 11 age groups), 55% of children are breastfed or have been breastfed compared to 62% in 2013. If the breastfeeding rate is down, its duration has undoubtedly increased due to the health crisis and the fact that mothers have been able to stay at home longer after the baby’s arrival as well as the generalization of telecommuting in many professional fields.
The data from the study reveal that if the transition from 1st stage milk to follow-on milk (2nd stage milk) is generally respected, ¼ of the babies in the survey between 1 and 2 years old consume non-specific cow’s milk and they are almost half after 2 years old. Too high a percentage, especially since these children consume semi-skimmed milk which is not rich enough in fat. Moreover, Dr. Sandra Brancato, pediatrician and member of the French Association of Ambulatory Pediatrics (AFPA) specifies that “the arrival of cow’s milk is still too early and too important. Infant milk should be maintained until the age of 3 years.
Feeding practices in babies: not enough good fats
The dietary practices of this 2022 edition reveal that 12% of parents say they remove certain foods from their diet and 60% of them also remove these foods from their child’s diet. While these data still need to be analyzed in the current food intake section for 2023, this shows that parents still tend to believe that young children are “mini adults”. However, babies from 0 to 3 years old have specific nutritional needs. Thus, it is recalled that reducing the consumption of meat and saturated fats is only beneficial for adults and that young children need lipids: “40% of the baby’s food ration must consist of good quality lipids, good fat is life” insists Dr. Brancato. The pediatrician also raises another point of vigilance, the adoption of a vegetarian or vegan diet is not recommended and if parents still wish to apply this type of diet to their children, they must be followed by a professional trained in this type of food in the youngest to avoid any deficiency which could prove detrimental for the future life of the child.
The pediatrician, a source of positive influence for parents
Good news according to the data from this Nutri-bébé 2022 survey, the important place of health professionals as a source of influence on parents’ food choices for their baby. The pediatrician holds a place of choice, especially for first-time mothers and parents of children aged 0 to 18 months.. The many compulsory medical appointments for the young child thus allow parents to ask all the questions about food and in particular about diversification and the transition to a more solid food in pieces around 10-11 months. Amandine Rochedy, the sociologist who worked on the study nevertheless specifies that the 2022 edition shows a predominance of a more privileged population than in 2013, which would explain better access to the pediatrician.
Food and screen: babies too exposed at mealtimes
If the majority of the questions asked during the survey are based on eating habits, the study also takes into account the current context, and in particular the exposure to ubiquitous screens for several years. This 6th edition also reveals that 49% of children have had access to a screen in the last 7 days. More worryingly, it is at breakfast that the little ones are exposed to screens: 42% of children occasionally eat breakfast in front of a screen. The health context may have accentuated the share of screens according to the pediatrician Dr Brancato who specifies that: “We have been campaigning against screens for several years and yet there is no improvement. There may be interactions that take place between the child, the parents and the screen from the moment the child begins to exchange. So the whole question is whether these are times when he is alone in front of the screen or if he is accompanied by his parents. As a reminder, before the age of 3, screen time must be very limited and watched accompanied in an educational setting and not as a substitute for a family meal.