This site is intended for health professionals only

Spoon-fed babies 'likely' to be obese in later life

Spoon-fed babies are more likely to be overweight when older than those infants allowed to feed themselves with finger foods, a study claims.

The research, published in BMJ Open, has prompted the encouragement of 'baby-led weaning' to help ward off obesity in later childhood.

Researchers studied 155 children between the ages of 20 months and 6.5 years.

Ninety-two of the children had been allowed to feed themselves with finger foods (baby-led group) and 63 had been spoon-fed pureed foods throughout weaning.

The study found children in the baby-led group favoured carbohydrates, while the children in the spoon-fed group preferred 'sweet' foods.

This was despite spoon-fed babies being offered more of a variety of foods groups - including carbohydrates - than the infants in the baby-led weaning group.

Thanks to their preference for 'sweet' foods, children in the spoon-fed group were found to be more likely to be obese than those in the baby led group, who tended to be an appropriate weight for their height, age, and gender.

Authors claim infants lose their awareness of a food's texture and presentation when the food is pureed.

“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,” said the research team, led by Dr Ellen Townsend, School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.

“This has implications for combating the well documented rise of obesity in contemporary societies.”

Question: Do you agree that 'baby-led weaning' is more beneficial to the infant?