A 19th century nursery rhyme called "What Are Little Boys Made Of?" and generally attributed to Robert Southey goes

"What are little boys made of?  What are little boys made of? Snips and snails and puppy-dogs' tails, that's what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of? What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice,
that's what little girls are made of."

But these days in Australia both genders, even only four weeks old, are made of sugar.  And salt and high-fat foods, despite health authorities recommending exclusive breastfeeding to six months of age.

A study published in the journal Nutrition&Dietetics details how researcher Jane Scott and colleagues tracked 587 women from two Perth, Australia maternity hospitals through regular phone interviews for 12 months to understand how the new mothers fed their babies.

“Almost one in four mothers had introduced fruit juice, biscuits and cakes to their infants by six months of age. This is a worry because eating habits developed early in life usually continue throughout a person’s lifetime – and an overweight child is much more likely to become an overweight adult,” said Scotts, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Flinders University, Australia.

The study found babies who were started early on solids, and also those with two or more siblings, had a greater chance of eating high fat, salt and sugar foods by their first birthday.  In a recent Australia-wide survey, up to 20 per cent of children aged two to three years were found to be overweight or obese, indicating that the problem of children being overweight starts early in life.

Dietitians Association of Australia spokesperson and obesity expert professor Clare Collins said, “What newborns eat does matter. Babies need breast milk, not biscuits, ice-cream and soft drinks. Parent need more support to optimise breastfeeding initiation and duration rates, and we need ways to make it easier for parents to feed their children right.”

She called for better support for and promotion of breastfeeding, which she said is one of the most important factors in the long-term health of newborns.

Citation: Gloria A. KOH, Jane A. SCOTT, Wendy H. ODDY, Kathleen I. GRAHAM, Colin W. BINNS; Exposure to non-core foods and beverages in the first year of life: Results from a cohort study; Nutrition&Dietetics 2010; 67: 137–142; DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-0080.2010.01445.x