Babies given solid foods before they are four months old are more likely to be overweight at the age of three than other infants, new research has found.
More than one in four (26pc) babies given solids before four months were overweight aged three compared with 22pc of those fed solids later on.
The same held true when the youngsters reached five, with 24pc of those given solids before four months being overweight compared with 20pc of those given solids after four months.
The research also found that children who were not breastfed were more likely to be overweight (23pc compared with 18pc of those breastfed for four months or more).
Experts in London examined data for more than 12,000 youngsters for the study. The researchers found that living in a family with a lower household income and having a less educated mother were also factors that made children more likely to be overweight. Youngsters of single mothers were also more prone to being heavy at age three and five.
Overall, 18pc of the children in the study were overweight at age three and 5pc were obese, while 16pc were overweight at age five and 5pc were obese.
Dr Lucy Griffiths, who led the research team, said: "Our findings suggest a continued need to promote breastfeeding and discourage premature introduction of solid foods."