Don’t Give In: Battling Childhood Obesity Before It Even Starts

Young mothers today fight a battle with older mothers, grandmothers and old wives tales on a variety of topics. In my case, the most hotly debated issue was whether to give my young daughter food early. The reasons I was given were all of course in “her best interest.” “She’s hungry,” “She’ll sleep longer at night.” “You started food early.”

Somehow I just could rationalize letting my child chew on a chicken bone…sorry!

Perhaps my reluctance to feed Syd early was the right decision. In a study published by researchers from Children’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard University, infants that were introduced to solids before 4 months were linked to a sixfold increase in becoming obese by the child’s third birthday. And according to the survey, the link was proven true for infants who were never breast-fed or were weaned before then.

Consider my hypothesis. Most breastfeeding/nursing mothers that I know tend to fight the transition to solid foods the most because it’s really the first introduction to processed foods. These mothers end up delaying the process for as long as humanely possible. For example, I know that we waited to start our daughter on cereal until she was six months old and continued to provide her breast milk until she was 10 months old.

In another study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), which followed low-income black mothers, found that first time mothers started their kids on solids earlier because they felt their children were being fussy and needed more food.  In this case, the babies were receiving an additional 100 calories per day. If I am reading the study correctly, it sounds like they are saying that those extra calories add up and overweight babies turn into overweight adults.

Keep in mind that other reasons for not starting solids early include avoiding the development of food allergies. According to the, “Your baby’s intestinal tract is not as fully developed during the first few months and introducing solids at this time can be too much to handle.”

I don’t know about you…but I am sticking to my instincts on this one.  Avoid the urge to feed your child solids early!

3 thoughts on “Don’t Give In: Battling Childhood Obesity Before It Even Starts

  1. I called myself not giving my daughter solid food until I felt the time was right. Then I realized (at 6 mos.) my grandmother had been feeding her mashed potatoes!

  2. Interesting post! My MIL also recommended I let my daughter chew on a chicken bone. She also tried to get me to feed her solids before six months because she wanted to be able to feed her grand baby before she went back home. I resisted. It’s good to see research that backs me up. I think for older generations, especially our working class parents/grandparents, a plump baby was a symbol of being able to keep your family well-fed. Skinny children were associated with being poor. In a lot of cases, babies were overfed and did grow up to be obese. I definitely see it in my husband’s family.

  3. Thanks Ladies! Good to see that research backs up our gut instinct! You gotta watch those grandma’s though…

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