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Are spoon-fed babies more likely to be overweight?

A baby’s first spoonful of food is an exciting milestone for all moms and dads to reach. It’s the beginning of a new, yet somewhat messy, chapter of your baby’s life! However, a recent study by researchers in Swansea University claims that babies who are spoon-fed during weaning have a higher chance of becoming overweight.

According to the report, babies who are spoon-fed are unable to tell when they are full and will therefore eat more food than they actually need. As a result, the study favours baby led weaning, where you offer your baby a selection of nutritious foods in manageable sizes for them to hold, and allow them to choose what they want to eat.

The study implies that letting babies feed themselves prevents them from eating too much and becoming overweight toddlers. It allows the baby to be in control of what they eat, making them more aware of when they feel full and teaching them about controlling their appetite.

“Allowing the child to regulate their own appetite and not pressurising them to eat more than they need is a really important step in encouraging children to develop healthy eating patterns for life,” says Dr Amy Brown, from Swansea University.

The study involved 298 babies. Their weight before starting solids and their method of weaning was recorded. A year later, the weight and eating behaviour of the now-toddlers was noted and these results formed the basis of the report.

Comments from health professionals – including the UK’s health service, the NHS – believe the study is inconclusive and can’t prove that spoon-feeding definitively leads to obesity. As the research is based on feedback given by the babies’ moms, the results may not be reliable – surely it would be very unrealistic to expect a busy mom to have the time to keep a thorough, year-long record of what their baby ate every single day. As a result, critics have claimed the results couldn’t be 100% accurate.

The most important fact to note is that, ultimately, it is what your baby eats, rather than how they eat it, which is going to have the most significant long-term influence on their future weight. Offer your baby a varied selection of foods and textures to help develop new tastes, and try to incorporate meals with the rest of the family where possible as this will help your little one understand the social element of mealtimes.

Do you think there is any basis to the results of the study? Do you favour baby-led weaning, spoon-feeding or a combination of the two? Leave a comment below and let us know.


About the Author

Editor of eumom.ie, Mairéad Cahalan is a creator of content, a lover of music, red wine and coffee, and a part-time wedding singer! Find her on Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud and LinkedIn.

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