Published online December 24, 2009, by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study examined health records from more than 5,000 men and women born in Denmark between 1959 and 1961. As infants, 17 percent had started solid foods before 2 months of age; 46 percent didn't start until they were 4 months old or later (the time frame recommended today by most pediatric health organizations).
According to researchers, children started on solids at or before 2 months were more likely to be obese at age 42 than babies started at 6 months. The study noted that from age 2 months to 6 months, for each month parents put off starting solids, risk of adult obesity dropped by 5 percent to 10 percent.
The study also looked at whether breastfeeding during the first year reduced chances for weight problems later in life. Half of the study participants were breastfed as infants for at least two and a half months. At age 1, researchers noted, babies who were breastfed tended to have lower body mass indexes (BMIs), but BMI in later childhood, adolescence, and adulthood did not appear connected with nursing duration.
Pediatricians recommend babies breastfeed for the first year of life, with parents supplementing solid foods starting at 4- to 6-months old. Some signs to watch for that can tell you baby is ready for solids include:
- Loss of tongue-thrust reflex
- Swiping food from your plate or showing intense interest in watching people eat
- The ability to sit up (good head, neck, and back muscle control)