Objective: The present study compared the age of first solid foods in a cohort of preterm infants with term infants and identified factors influencing timing of solid food introduction. Design: Structured interviews on infant feeding practices, growth and medical status at term equivalence and at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months corrected postnatal age. The age of solid food introduction was compared between term and preterm infants, and the influence of maternal, infant and milk feeding factors was assessed. Setting: This prospective longitudinal study recruited primary carers of preterm and term infants from a regional metropolitan referral hospital in eastern Australia. Participants: One hundred and fifty infants (preterm, n 85; term, n 65). Results: When corrected for prematurity, preterm infants received solid foods before the recommended age for the introduction of solid foods for term infants. Median introduction of solid foods for preterm infants was 14 weeks corrected age (range 12-17 weeks). This was significantly less than 19 weeks (range 17-21 weeks) for term infants (P < 0.001). Lower maternal education and male gender were associated with earlier introduction of solid foods among preterm infants. Conclusions: Preterm infants are introduced to solid foods earlier than recommended for term infants, taking account of their corrected age. Further research is needed to assess any risk or benefit associated with this pattern and thus to develop clear evidence-based feeding guidelines for preterm infants.