An increasing number of mothers are feeding their infants with store-bought baby food instead of preparing the food themselves, according to a survey recently released by the Health and Welfare Ministry.

According to ministry figures, 48.2 percent of mothers surveyed in 1985 said they often or sometimes used packaged baby food. The corresponding figure for 1995 jumped to 66 percent. Of mothers who think packaged baby food is convenient, safe and mild in taste, about 80 percent feed their infants with it. Of mothers who take the trouble to prepare food themselves, 40 percent to 50 percent said they sometimes use store-bought baby food.

An official at the ministry’s Maternal and Child Health Division said the increase at least in part could be due to a rise in the number of women who no longer believe that baby food prepared by mothers is best. In addition, a 1995 ministry revision to weaning guidelines in which the 12-month weaning period was extended to 15 months also may have contributed to increased sales of baby food.

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