Feeding your baby solids too early causes respiratory and skin problems, according to research from Dundee in Scotland.
In the trial, researchers looked at a total of 671 babies, all of whose mothers had been advised not to introduce solid food before three to four months.
After three months, 97 babies were exclusively breastfed, 130 were partially breastfed, 180 had been weaned and the remaining 264 were bottle fed.
More bottle fed than partially breastfed babies had been started on solids by eight weeks, 15 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively. At 12 weeks, the figures were 74 per cent and 65 per cent.
After controlling for other variables, babies started earlier on solids were significantly heavier at four to 26 weeks. After a year, the weights between the two groups were identical.
However, those fed solids early were twice as likely to suffer from respiratory illness, persistent cough, wheezing and coryza (inflammation of the nose's mucous membrane, causing a runny nose) and they were also at greater risk of developing eczema.
Despite the findings, because the research did not show up increased risk of napkin dermatitis or gastroenteritis, Monitor Weekly (7 July 1993) mystifyingly concludes: "These results suggest that early solid feeding is not as hazardous as previously thought."