OBJECTIVES:

To identify dietary patterns in US infants at age 6 and 12 months, sociodemographic differences in these patterns, and their associations with infant growth from age 6 to 12 months.

METHODS:

We analyzed a subsample (760 boys and 795 girls) of the Infant Feeding Practices Study II (2005–2007). Mothers reported their infants’ intakes of 18 types of foods in the past 7 days, which were used to derive dietary patterns at ages 6 and 12 months by principal component analysis.

RESULTS:

Similar dietary patterns were identified at ages 6 and 12 months. At 12 months, infants of mothers who had low education or non-Hispanic African American mothers (vs non-Hispanic white) had a higher score on “High sugar/fat/protein” dietary pattern. Both “High sugar/fat/protein” and “High dairy/regular cereal” patterns at 6 months were associated with a smaller increase in length-for-age z score (adjusted β per 1 unit dietary pattern score, −1.36 [95% confidence interval (CI), −2.35 to −0.37] and −0.30 [−0.54 to −0.06], respectively), while with greater increase in BMI z score (1.00 [0.11 to 1.89] and 0.32 [0.10 to 0.53], respectively) from age 6 to 12 months. The “Formula” pattern was associated with greater increase in BMI z score (0.25 [0.09 to 0.40]). The “Infant guideline solids” pattern (vegetables, fruits, baby cereal, and meat) was not associated with change in length-for-age or BMI z score.

CONCLUSIONS:

Distinct dietary patterns exist among US infants, vary by maternal race/ethnicity and education, and have differential influences on infant growth. Use of “Infant guideline solids” with prolonged breastfeeding is a promising healthy diet for infants after age 6 months.

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