Baby Food and Weaning: Are Finger-Foods Better Than Purees?


Home / Baby Food and Weaning: Are Finger-Foods Better Than Purees?

Self-feeding may improve a baby's eating habits. Image by Egilshay

Can even a very young baby choose the best foods?

When it comes to starting an infant on baby foods, parents often begin with pureed foods. However, a new study published in the British Medical Journal entitled, “Baby knows best? The impact of weaning style on food preferences and body mass index in early childhood in case-controlled sample” examines the difference between the traditional pureed foods and the baby-led weaning and spoon-feeding styles.

What is Baby-led Weaning?

Baby-led weaning (BLW) is a method of introducing table foods to babies  in which parents opt out of feeding their baby pureed foods, and instead go straight to finger-sized foods that the baby can pick up and feed himself. These table foods should still be age appropriate, such as soft cooked foods that can be mashed or cut into small pieces. An important aspect of this method is that the parents don’t actually put food into the baby’s mouth, although, in the beginning, parents may help the baby guide food into her mouth. This method allows the baby to chose what to eat and how much to eat, as opposed to the spoon-feeding style of weaning, in which the parent chooses each bite for the child.

Infant Weaning Style and Body Mass Index

Dr. Ellen Townsend conducted this study to determine if either of the two types of feeding methods had any result on early childhood body mass index. Parents that were enrolled in this study filled out a detailed questionnaire that asked about infant feeding methods, the age at which the child started solid foods, and the child’s food preferences. Dr. Townsend found that children who had been spoon-fed were more likely to be overweight than children in the baby-led weaning group, and that children in the baby-led weaning group were more likely to be underweight. The children in the baby-led weaning group also had a preference for carbohydrate foods, such as toast or other bread items, whereas the spoon-fed children preferred sweet foods.

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