Baby-led weaning versus conventional weaning
I don’t know about you guys, but we’re all caught up in Olympic fever here and competition seems to be on our minds constantly. So if baby-led weaning was to compete with conventional weaning which would win? Are there any real advantages of one over the other? Do you have to choose one method or can you in fact combine the two?
Baby-led weaning is definitely winning the race in popularity with many parents at the moment and this was boosted by the media coverage earlier this year that claimed that ‘spoon feeding makes babies fatter’. This story was based on a research study carried out at Nottingham University which looked at the impact of weaning method on food preferences and health outcomes in early childhood. However, this study has been criticised for its small size, with only 155 babies (92 baby-led, 63 spoon-fed), with most of the babies in each group being of a healthy weight. Many factors can affect a child’s food preferences and body weight, including genetic factors, exercise, social and demographic backgrounds, and as this study only asked questions about eating habits at a single point in time rather than over a period of time it only gave a snapshot of the situation. Some of the findings may also have been due to chance, so in fact this study probably proves very little. For a more detailed review of this study you might be interested in this article on the NHS website.
Although many parents would back the more conventional approach to weaning as the deserved winner, there is probably a case for combining elements of both approaches to get the best for babies. Babies should be encouraged to feed themselves when they appear ready and you should allow your baby to take control of their own food intake. When they appear to have had enough, don’t force them to eat any more. It is important that you offer a good variety of foods with different tastes and textures, including a wide variety of finger foods, and babies should be given a spoon to feed themselves with as soon as possible. We know weaning is a messy business, but we need to accept and prepare for this and not discourage independence.
Of course, as parents we like to know how much food our baby is eating and this is often easier with more traditional weaning methods, but we have to accept that with childhood obesity rates on the rise we must keep an open mind about what is the best way to wean a baby. A much larger study looking at feeding of babies from the start of weaning over several years would give us much needed and invaluable information on which to base the best weaning advice for you all in the future.
Let me know about your experiences – which weaning approach do you favour?
Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to an event at Bill’s, a lovely rustic cafe/restaurant in the middle of London’s Covent Garden. I've added a photo of me with some of teh HiPP team!
In amongst all the tempting produce and tantalising recipes ordinarily available in this friendly eating-house, HiPP Organic had displayed a wide selection of their organic baby foods, drinks and snacks together with some lovely fresh fruits and vegetables (another photo below for you to see). It looked great! Also invited were a number of journalists and bloggers working in parenting media who had come along to find out more about the HiPP range and the nutritional benefits they can offer babies and young children.
Amongst the displayed foods were some of the company’s new products that have just come onto the market. The four new Savoury Pouches each contain 1-2 child-sized portions of vegetables and are also a natural source of omega 3 (organic rapeseed oil), providing at least 25% of a baby’s daily omega 3 (alpha-linolenic acid) requirement. Omega 3 fats play a vital role in brain and nerve development and it’s really important to make sure babies get enough in their diets, but with so few good natural sources this can be quite a challenge so these new products should be popular. Two of these pouches (Creamy tomato & leek pasta and Scrummy Spaghetti Bolognese) are for Stage 2 and what sets them apart from the competition is that they contain small lumps rather than just being mashed. Encouraging babies to chew from around 7 months is really important and these products should help parents at this key stage in development.
Other new products on display were the ‘My first yogurts’ in raspberry and banana flavours. The little pots are perfect for parents when they’re out and about with their little ones as they do not need to be chilled – a perfect snack for slipping into a handbag or changing bag. Providing 23% RDA for calcium in 100g (2 pots) these baby yogurts could be a valuable addition to the diet as well. They taste great too, as was discovered by a little girl accompanying her journalist mum!
This was a really enjoyable morning and I don’t think I was alone in finding it extremely valuable and informative. It was a great opportunity for me to meet and chat to some lovely people who are just as interested in child nutrition as I am. A rare occasion!
Until next time....