By Hannah Schenker
Babies who feed themselves when they start eating solids become less fussy eaters, an Otago University study has found. Good news for those dreading years of cajoling, bribing and hiding vegetables in your dinners!
The study, led by Professor Rachael Taylor and Associate Professor Anne-Louise Heath and published in the international journal JAMA Pediatrics, researched whether there was a link between Baby-Led Weaning practices and a reduced risk of becoming overweight up to age 2. They found no difference in body weight or energy intake between spoon feeding and baby-led weaning (BLW) but did make this other wonderful discovery.
Chucking out the spoon-feeding purees and mashes and instead handing your little one graspable soft foods that they can learn to eat on their own allows your child to control their own food intake, which, the study says, helps them develop a better attitude toward the foods they are eating and they became less fussy eaters than the spoon-fed children in the group.
“The BLW infants in our study were more likely to show they were enjoying their food and to be less picky eaters,” Taylor said.
Interestingly, they also found that previous notions that Baby-Led Weaning leads to malnourished kids or less intake of food were unfounded.
“We also found no evidence for previous suggestions that infants following a baby-led approach may not eat enough food, and no sign that they were underweight,” she says.
206 mothers were involved in the study, with 105 of them assigned to an intervention that included support from a lactation consultant to extend exclusive breastfeeding and delay the introduction of complementary foods until 6 months of age – which is when children are developmentally ready to self-feed.
So it just goes to show – breastfeeding exclusively if you can until at least six months, and then offering your child food from the dinner table that they can feed themselves (while continuing breastfeeding as long as possible too) will give your child the best start in the world of nutrition and health.