Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1224–1232 | Cite as

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

  • Brian G. MossEmail author
  • William H. Yeaton


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



Both Drs. Moss and Yeaton developed the study concept and design, participated with the interpretation of the data, as well as contributed to the manuscript’s content. Dr. Moss had access to the restricted data and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data analyses. Neither author claims a conflict of interest and approval was granted by the National Center for Health Statistics and State Institutional Review Boards. The authors wish to express appreciation to Drs. Janet Hankin and Riva Tukachinsky for feedback on earlier drafts of this manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no competing interest.


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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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