According to a recent study by the online medical journal BMJ Open, baby-led weaning, or letting baby wean himself off milk, may actually help him learn to make healthier food choices as he transitions to solid foods.
How does it work? It basically involves letting baby feed himself with cut-up bits of solid finger foods, rather than the conventional spoon feeding by the parent.
The study covered 155 children between the ages of 20 months and 6 ½ years old. Parents had to accomplish questionnaires asking about how they would feed their children, the kids’ food preferences, as well as their height and weight.
Results showed that 92 of these children were weaned on finger foods, while 63 were weaned on spoon-fed purees. Those who were weaned on finger foods ended up preferring carbohydrates over sweets, and those who were spoon-fed ended up liking sweets more, resulting in a higher likelihood to be obese or overweight. The preference for carbs may be attributed to the “ease of chewing, pleasing presentation, and texture of foods such as toast,” say the researchers.
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In addition, the authors note that:
•“Our study suggests that baby-led weaning has a positive impact on the liking for foods that form the building blocks of healthy nutrition, such as carbohydrates.”
•“Baby-led weaning promotes healthy food preferences in early childhood, which may protect against obesity.”
BMJ Open states, “This early self-regulation of what to eat keeps them slim.” Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, adds that babies might actually inherently know what foods are best for them.
The authors also caution though that baby-led weaning does not necessarily translate to the elimination of fussy eating, or picky eating.