THE early introduction of solid food to babies does little harm, despite professional advice against the practice, say researchers from Ninewells Hospital, Dundee. At present, parents are generally advised not to give solid foods before the age of three months, preferably four. Early introduction of solids has been associated with excessive weight gain, gastrointestinal illness and allergic disorders such as wheeze and nappy rash.

But a study of 671 newborn infants found that giving solids at less than 12 weeks was not related to any of these illnesses. There was, however, a small increased risk of coughs and other respiratory disorders among infants given solids early.

A more relaxed approach to early feeding with solids should be considered, with more focus on the individual needs of mothers and babies, the researchers argue in the British Medical Journal.