In a study, calorie intake was higher in the first few months for babies who started eating solid foods earlier, but the others quickly caught up
Does the age at which babies are introduced to solid foods influence their calorie intake or growth? Does starting solid foods too early lead to obesity? Those are questions that European researchers set out to answer.
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Nearly 700 healthy formula-fed babies were followed for two years. Infants were categorized into four groups for study according to when they began eating solids: at a little over three months of age; between three and four months; between four and five months, and those who began eating solids at six months or later. Body measurements were taken at the beginning of the study, and at three, six, 12, and 24 months.
The results? Calorie intake was higher in the first eight months of life in those who started eating solids earlier. Infants who started eating solids at three months weighed less but caught up in growth within six months compared to the infants who started solids at six months and grew more slowly. Those who were started on solid foods before four months of age gained more weight in the first year of life than the infants who started later, but it didn't seem to influence their long-term growth. The introduction of solid foods did not predict their growth measurements -- length or weight -- at 24 months of age