All of you spoon-wielding parents out there, say goodbye to the “Here comes the choo-choo” while you attempt to feed your baby some mushy peas. According to a new study by Swansea University found infants weaned using a baby-led approach were “significantly more” able to stop eating when they felt full and were less likely to be overweight. Compared to babies who were fed by a spoon. The study examined the eating habits of 298 babies – first looking at how they were introduced to solid foods between 6 and 12 months, and then later examined these same babies at between 18 and 24 months. The babies who self-fed weighed less than the babies who were spoon fed by their parents. From The Telegraph:
These results were independent of other factors such as mother’s background, birth weight, weaning age and breastfeeding.
She said: “This may be explained by the baby being allowed to handle foods, control their intake and eat at their own pace, alongside being exposed to a wider variety of tastes.
“All of this may promote appetite regulation and healthy weight gain trajectories.”
This all makes sense but would any parent be willing to trust their infant with a bowl of rice cereal and no parental guidance? Plus, I’m always sort of skeptical of these studies because you know who fed us all when we were babies? Our parents. And do you know who fed our parents? Our grandparents. And basically none of them ever cared or paid any mind to studies like this because they were too busy trying to get us to eat strained carrots and go to sleep so they could not strap us into carseats and not worry about whether they were being helicopter parents or free-range parents.
I think letting your baby feed themselves is awesome and most parents, when given the opportunity, gladly do so just so they can have three minutes to scarf down their own sad cheese sandwich and throw a load of laundry in, but for the parents who insist on driving the mashed bananas into their babies mouth so they don’t make a mess? I’m sure those babies will have their weight determined by a lot of other factors later in life other than just the fact someone fed them from a spoon. I think it’s something to be mindful of, and by all means, let your baby enjoy some fistfuls of Cheerios, but I wouldn’t throw out all of your tiny flatware yet.