Baby knows best! Study shows baby-led weaning promotes healthy food preferences.



with traditional spoon feeding what usually happens is that an infant is presented with some kind of puree or mush on a spoon by the parent and it's a case of trying to get as every many mothers know the spoon into the child's mouth with baby led weaning the control is handed over to the child so you present them with a range of foods usually finger foods from six months old and the child can pick up the food freely and feed themselves indeed some ones actually offer chilled that the child being baby led a spoon which is preloaded and they can operate the spoon themselves the study came from our main question was we know how does this type of weaning or how does this style of winning impact on health outcomes and food preferences because there was an elegant evidence gap there we simply don't know there's a lot of talk by mums on the internet and you know Epping playgroups and coffee mornings about how it works and so on but the real evidence is is lacking so we wanted to find that evidence so we knew we wanted to do a comparison between the two weaning groups so then it was a matter of recruiting participants and for many years now at Nottingham I've been running the Nottingham toddler lab and so we have a database of local families that have signed up to take part in the kind of work that I do and others in the department so we recruited quite a lot of parents from that from that database and gave them the questionnaire but we also recruit recruited additional participants from website forum that Ellen was aware of and we ended up with a sample of one hundred and fifty-five participants that we were then able to classify as either traditional spoon fed we need weaning or baby led weaning we asked them about what they'd actually done with the weaning process we are some questions about things like whether baby been breastfed breastfeeding duration and we also asked them about the child's height and weight so that we could calculate their body mass index which is in an indication of their weight relative their height and their age in their gender I think there are there are two key findings really the first is that the baby led weaning group showed an increased liking for carbohydrates over the spoon-fed group and that was a very strong finding that was cystic lis significant and it was also their preferred food group out of all the food groups carbohydrates whether with it was the group that the baby led weaning children liked the most that's in quite stark contrast to the spoon fed group who likes sweet things the most the second finding of note is that the baby led weaning children were more likely to have a body mass index that was in the healthy range as compared to the spoon fed children who had higher body mass index overall obviously with any work like this it's really important to take into account certain socioeconomic status because socioeconomic status is related to a lot of developmental and health outcomes but we took that into account right at the beginning when we collected our data we asked parents about questions about their socioeconomic status that enabled us to statistically control for that when we were analyzing our results and fortunately what we found was that socioeconomic status didn't affect the pattern of results that we found except for one food group which was vegetables and there there was a general effect of socioeconomic status it didn't differentiate the the two weaning groups so it was a similar pattern for both the baby led weaning group and also the spoon fed weaning group but socioeconomic status was associated with liking of vegetables such that the higher the socioeconomic status the higher the liking of vegetables it's tremendous fun it's incredibly messy but we've we know we have family meals with our two children now olara it's just just nearly nine months and whilst it's incredibly messy it's just it's delightful it's really good fun and I think it's had a good impact on increasing our five a day as we definitely eat more fruit and vegetables some health visitors have concerns about children choking and when they're using more solid peaceful foods rather than the pure aged foods but that wasn't something that came up particularly strongly in in our results either so those concerns that people have had that perhaps have made parents perhaps choose the alternative form of weaning are perhaps dealt with in our paper and can be used better advise parents to give them a more complete picture when they're deciding which weaning style to use with their children we're absolutely delighted that the papers being published in BMJ open we think that will mean it has a good impact for academics health practitioners and so on it's an open access journal that means anybody can read it who has internet access anywhere around the world we see this very much as a stepping off point we do need some large prospective studies to track children over time to see what happens with their food preferences to see what happens with their you know health outcomes and so on and so we see this very much as the start of the ball rolling in this area of research you

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