Media Advisory: Guidelines for introducing solid foods to infants may lead to unhealthy weight

NIH-supported research calls for well-defined standards for infants between 6 months and 1 year

Baby girl in high chair smiling and being fed baby food on a spoon.
Smiling baby girl being fed solid food on a spoon
Credit: Stock Image


Common recommendations from hospitals and infant formula manufacturers for introducing solid foods to infants could raise the risk of overfeeding or underfeeding, suggests a computer modeling study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The study, led by Bruce Y. Lee, M.D., executive director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, was supported by NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. It appears in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

Parents often seek guidance from medical professionals on how and when to first give solid foods to their infant. Many national and international organizations recommend waiting until an infant is 6 months old before introducing solid foods. However, recommendations vary significantly for infants between 6 months and 1 year. Little research evidence is available on how much solid food is appropriate during this time and what types of solid food are best.

In the current study, researchers developed a computer model that captured feeding behaviors, physical activity levels, estimated metabolism and body size of infants from 6 months to 1 year in response to guidance from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, and baby formula manufacturers Enfamil and Similac. All of the simulated tests resulted in either overweight or underweight simulated infants by 9 months.

The researchers recommend that medical and professional organizations, government agencies and industry consider developing consistent guidelines on how best to introduce infants to solid food, including appropriate portion sizes and food types based on whether the primary feeding type is breastmilk or formula.


Layla Esposito, Ph.D., Program Director, NICHD’s Child Development and Behavior Branch. For interviews, call 301-496-5133 or e-mail


Ferguson, M. The impact of following solid food feeding guides on GBMI among infants: A simulation study. American Journal of Preventative Medicine. July 2019: DOI: 


About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): NICHD leads research and training to understand human development, improve reproductive health, enhance the lives of children and adolescents, and optimize abilities for all. For more information, visit

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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