Friday, January 17, 2014

Back in the News: Baby-Led Weaning vs. Spoon-Feeding

Last year we wrote about a study showing that allowing babies to feed themselves resulted in less obesity compared to babies being spoon-fed by the parent.  Now a related study contributes more evidence about the role of weaning style and how it influences a child’s responsiveness to satiety (fullness) cues and weight status.

This study compared “traditional or standard weaning”, defined as the spoon-feeding of purees, to “baby-led weaning” Which the authors define as allowing infants to self-feed foods in their whole form starting at 6-months.  For baby-led weaning, maternal control is minimal because the foods are placed in front of the baby and the baby chooses which and how much to eat. There is also lack of puree use with baby-led weaning.

In the first phase of this study, 423 mothers of infants aged 6-12 months reported the age of solid food introduction and weaning style (standard versus baby-led), among other variables. Then, in phase 2, 298 mothers of 18-24 month olds reported their child’s weight and eating styles, including “satiety-responsiveness”(ability to regulate intake in response to fullness cues), “food-responsiveness” (desire to eat when not hungry), “food fussiness” (pickiness & limited food choices) and “enjoyment of food.”

·       Babies who fed themselves were more responsive to fullness cues (better appetite control) and less likely to be overweight than babies who were spoon-fed by parents.

·       Babies who fed themselves were significantly less “food responsive” (desire to eat food when not hungry).

·       Babies who breastfed longer were more responsive to their own fullness cues and less picky.

·       Infants starting solid foods earlier were perceived by their parents  to be pickier at 18-24 months, compared to infants starting solids later.

·       A greater percentage of infants who were overweight were spoon-fed compared to finger-fed (19.2% vs. 8.1%).
The authors conclude that following the baby-led weaning approach helps babies develop healthy eating patterns and promotes eating based on appetite. Infants are better able to set the pace and size of the meal and parents are less likely to consciously or unconsciously try to control portion size.

It is noted that further research is needed to confirm these findings. Parents, self-report was used in this study, so authors addressed the need for more objective measures in future studies.

What are your thoughts? How have you started solid foods with your baby? What worked and didn’t work?

Brown A and Lee MD. Early Influences on child satiety-responsiveness: the role of weaning style. Pediatric Obesity. 2013 Dec 17. [Epub ahead of print]

No comments:

Post a Comment