Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1224–1232

Early Childhood Healthy and Obese Weight Status: Potentially Protective Benefits of Breastfeeding and Delaying Solid Foods



The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between breastfeeding and postponing introduction to solid food (SF) on children’s obesity and healthy weight status (WS), at 2 and 4 years. Drawing upon a nationally representative sample of children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, we estimated the magnitude of the relationship between children’s WS and early feeding practices. Contingency tables and multinomial logistic regression were used to analyze obese and healthy WS for breastfed and never breastfed children and examine three timing categories for SF introduction. With both percentages and odds, breastfeeding and delaying introduction to SF until 4 months were associated with lower obesity rates and higher, healthy WS rates (typically 5–10 %). Analyses of feeding practice combinations revealed that when children were not breastfed, obesity odds decreased when SF introduction was postponed until 4 months. Obesity odds were further reduced when SF delay was combined with breastfeeding. Consistent increases in healthy WS were also observed. Benefits were stable across both follow-up periods. Breastfeeding and delaying complementary foods yielded consistently and substantially lower likelihood of obesity and greater probability of healthy WS. Health policies targeting early feeding practices represent promising interventions to decrease preschool obesity and promote healthy WS.


Body weight Breastfeeding Complementary food Infant food Obesity 



Early childhood longitudinal study-birth cohort


Weight status


Solid food

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Social ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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