New research has uncovered a dangerous link between feeding babies solids too early and childhood obesity.

A 10-year study by Western Sydney University (WSU) found babies who were introduced to formula and solid foods in the first four months of life could be twice as likely to develop childhood obesity, the Liverpool Leader reports.

The study tracked 346 infants from Sydney’s southwest — an area with the highest rate of childhood obesity in Australia.

The study found 82 per cent of parents had fed their babies solids or formula in the first four months of life.

WSU Translational Health Research Institute’s Haider Mannan — who led the study — said it was recommended mothers breastfeed exclusively, if possible, for at least four months.

“What our study has shown is that, in terms of infant feeding patterns, the first four months of life poses the greatest risk for the development of obesity later in childhood,” Dr Mannan said.

“We recommend continued exclusive breastfeeding for four to six months and not over six months as it may result in mothers exclusively breastfeeding, for example, for nine months, which is not recommended based on latest research.”

While recognising some mothers are unable to breastfeed in the first few months of a baby’s life, the study highlights the importance of educating parents on when to introduce solids and formula to their infants.

Deakin University professor Karen Campbell has previously said parents should shop around for formula with a lower protein level and avoid giving a baby solids until the age of six months.

The study has been published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Share your comments below

  • There are 2 variables there solids and formula, so the study doesnt really prove anything.


  • I don’t believe this particular ‘study’.


  • All my kids started at 4/5 months as formula wasn’t enough for them and they were hungry.
    All babies are different. It’s when they are ready to eat and showing signs.


  • I don’t necessarily agree. I’m sure it all depends on what you feed them and amounts you feed them. Some babies need solids early.


  • I fed both my kids early as they were both really hungry babies and I couldn’t keep supply up to them. Neither of them are remotely overweight (now 12 & 8), both have great appetites, eat anything and have no allergies so I think putting all kids in the same basket is a bit tricky. As we know kids are all so different so I think you need to do what works best for you.

    I would think lifestyle and what they eat later in life would determine the outcome of obesity rather that eating a month or two earlier than other kids.


  • This isn’t a big enough study nor does it identify one particular factor which makes it difficult to say what is actually causing the obesity.


  • I disagree with this. How much research has been done? I was absolutely guided by my Maternal Heath Nurse on when I should start introducing solids and took it from there.


  • Hm this is interesting, but surely not correct in all cases


  • Don’t agree with this study – I started all my kids on solids around 3 to 4 months old and none of them are overweight or ever have been. They are now in their 50’s and still very slim.


  • I think you need to do what’s right with your kids. Mine didn’t start solids till they were 6 months yet one of my twins didn’t start solids until she was 8 months, I was so stressed about this but she just wouldn’t eat anything and just spat it out. Ended up finding out she had a muscular problem with her mouth and tongue. Speech therapist helped with that and then she took her solids.


  • My mum gave us solids when she thought we needed them (which was between 3 – 4 months), I was a skinny child and so was my brother, my two sisters were both average to slim, I gave my son solids from just before 4 months, he was a skinny child and at 39 he is still skinny, we always ate healthy, my son actually tries to put on weight, but nothing seems to work for him. I think it has a lot to do with genetics and what you eat


  • Now they’re trying to say that children are obese and it’s the parents fault. How ridiculous. My boys were both fed solids at 4 – 5 months old and they aren’t obese.


  • What a load of poo. I started both my kids at 4mths on solids and they’re both very healthy and active. I feed them healthy foods and encourage activity. My kids will not be obese just because they had solids earlier. It’s what you teach them that matters.


  • This is excellent advice finally and about time, breast feed or low protein formula, it all makes sense, when babies cannot digest food or rich high protein formula, it sets them up for many health issues too not just weight gain. I stuck it out until 6 months but if baby reaches out when you are eating and wants a taste that is fine (as long as the food is appropriate). I have recently read that avocado should be the first food because it is the closest to breast milk, then banana, then sweet potato, do not buy ready made foods they can be too rich. Too much food too soon is what causes a lot of stomach issues, reflux, vomiting and grizzly babies who have often wind pain.


  • Oh and don’t even get me started on the breast feeding debate! How ridiculous to impose these studies on a new Mum doing her best! Fed is best! Education is best!

    • They were talking about the introduction of solids not breast feeding verses bottle fed.

      • You obviously didn’t read the article. The first sentence brings up formula introduction even before mentioning solids. It goes on to say “we recommend exclusively breastfeeding until 6 months”. This isn’t educating Mums on their choices and how to make the right choices for them and their babies.


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