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Giving Baby Solid Foods Too Early Linked to Obesity Later
Date:2/7/2011

ikely to be obese when they were 3 years old -- an association that was not explained by early rapid growth.

No such association was found for the breast-fed infants.

"Among breast-fed infants, the timing of the introduction of solids didn't seem to matter," said study co-author Sheryl L. Rifas-Shiman, a research associate at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Institute in Boston.

Huh said it's not clear why the introduction of solids before 4 months appeared to make such a significant difference for the formula-fed babies. But, the researchers theorize that "mothers of infants who are breast-fed may better understand and recognize their babies hunger and satiety cues. Mothers of formula-fed infants may not recognize these as well," said Huh.

"This study reinforces a lot of things we normally recommend," said Dr. Goutham Rao, director of the weight management and wellness center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. "Breast-feeding is best, and it's a useful way to make sure your child is healthy. In terms of solid food introduction, it's wise to delay it until 4 to 6 months," he said.

But, there are other things that parents need to do to keep their children healthy and at a proper weight, he said.

"What is it about the introduction of solid food early that is associated with obesity? Does the family have other unhealthy behaviors? Maybe they're allowing the child to eat fast food at two. Giving cereal at an early age may be a marker for something else that wasn't measured in this study," he explained.

To keep your child at a healthy weight, Rao said it's a good idea to stick with the AAP recommendations of introducing solids at 4 to 6 months. He also said that parents should introduce cereals and vegetables before introducing sweet foods. He advised not giving children high sugar or high fat foods, and said it's important to stay in tune with your child's hunger cues.

"A good rule for portion
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