86475384Figuring out when to start your baby on solids can be really confusing; it seems like everyone is getting different advice. But a new study shows you shouldn’t be in too much of a rush to start your child on something other than breast milk or formula. Babies that start solids earlier may be more prone to food allergies.

From The New York Times:

British researchers followed a group of 1,140 infants from birth to 2 years, while their mothers completed diaries detailing the babies’ diets and noting suspected allergic reactions to food, which researchers later confirmed by testing. They found 41 babies with confirmed food allergies, and compared them with 82 age-matched healthy controls. All were born between January 2006 and October 2007.

After controlling for birth weight, the duration of pregnancy, maternal allergies and many other factors, they found that 17 weeks was the crucial age: babies who were introduced to solids before this age were significantly more likely to develop food allergies.

I’ve known people who started their babies on rice cereal at four months, as instructed by their doctors. My son’s pediatrician advised me to skip rice cereal all together insisting it had no nutritional value and would probably constipate him. My daughter’s pediatrician told me since I was breastfeeding to wait until she was six months old to give her anything else. He insists she’s getting all she needs from the breast milk. He told me he advises mothers who are formula feeding to introduce fruit juices around four months. I have a friend who had her baby at the same time I did. She fed her baby food a few weeks before I started mine on solids. See what I mean? We are all getting different advice.

According to the study, it seems like the only factor that really matters is that you are waiting until your child is over four months old or 17 weeks to start him on food other than breast milk or formula. If it is unnecessary and may put your child at risk for developing food allergies – you may as well wait. I think sometimes we may get excited to see our child through another stage and we forget we may be pushing a little too fast:

“Don’t introduce solids until 17 weeks,” said the lead author, Kate E. C. Grimshaw, a nutritionist at the University of Southampton, “and if you can wait longer, that’s fine, too. At whatever age you begin solid foods, you should continue breast-feeding as well. And for those who cannot breast-feed, the advice not to introduce solid foods until 17 weeks is still applicable.”

(photo: Getty Images)