Thursday, February 09, 2012

Baby-Led Weaning Leads to Healthier Weight

The conventional wisdom of starting babies on purees once they reach six months of age is being turned on it's head. New research has discovered that when babies engage in baby-led weaning (BLW), they develop a preference for healthier foods and are less likely to become overweight.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham, England recruited the parents of 155 children, 92 of which underwent baby-led weaning, to discover that the BLW babies were less likely to become overweight. The children started on pureed foods were more likely to have higher BMI's down the road and generally had developed a strong taste for sweets. The researchers remarked that the BLW babies had developed a significant preference for carbohydrates - the basis of a healthy diet. Interestingly, the BLW babies were not found to have been exposed to carbohydrates any more than other foods, which "suggests that for carbohydrates, the only food category with significant group differences, weaning style was more influential than exposure on preference ratings," according to researchers. They believe that the babies preferred carbohydrates due to the texture, ease of chewing, and the pleasing presentation.

Baby-led weaning is a practice that encourages babies to learn to feed themselves gradually. They are offered breast milk or formula before a meal and then provided with an array of finger foods to choose from during meal times. In the beginning, not much gets eaten but in time the babies teach themselves how to eat solid foods and begin to prefer them over milk. This study was one of the few to look at the effects of such a feeding method.

Have you ever tried baby-led weaning?

Baby's First Foods Should Be Finger Foods [MedPageToday]
Baby-led weaning [babycenter]
Introducing Solid Food [BabyWeekly]
Photo Credit: Wen-Yan King