Early Influences On Child Weight And Eating Style: The Role Of A Baby-led Weaning Style | 14852
Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy
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Childhood obesity continues to be a critical problem. Ability to be ?satiety responsive? and balance intake of energy to need is
an important element of maintaining a healthy weight. Research has shown that experiences during infancy may have a long-
term impact upon weight gain and eating style. Breastfeeding and delayed introduction of solid foods are associated with lower
risk of obesity. However research has not explored the impact how infants are introduced to solids upon child weight.
Traditionally infants are introduced to solid foods via spoon-feeding of purees. However baby-led weaning advocates
allowing infants to self-feed foods in their whole form. Advocates suggest it may promote healthy eating styles but empirical
evidence examining the method is sparse. The aim of the current study was to compare child weight and eating behavior at 18-24
months for infants weaned following a traditional weaning approach compared to a baby-led weaning style.
298 mothers completed a longitudinal questionnaire exploring infant nutrition when their infant was 6?12 months and again
at 18?24 months. At 6?12 months mothers reported weaning style (bay-led versus traditional), breastfeeding duration and timing
of introduction to complementary foods. At 18?24 months, mothers reported child-eating behavior (satiety responsiveness, food
responsiveness, fussiness, enjoyment of food).
Infants weaned using a baby-led approach (n=163) were significantly more satiety responsive and less likely to be overweight
compared to those weaned using a standard approach (n=135). This was independent of breastfeeding duration, timing of
introduction to complementary foods, birth weight and maternal child-feeding style.
A baby-led weaning approach may therefore encourage greater satiety responsiveness and healthy weight gain trajectories
in infants. Explanations for the findings include greater infant control, flavor learning and participation in family meal times.
Amy Brown is a Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Policy Studies at Swansea University, UK. Her research explores early influences upon weight
and appetite regulation, particularly in relation to milk feeding and introduction to solid foods. She has published over twenty papers examining both
the impact of these initial choices on later child weight and eating behavior and the factors affecting maternal decisions surrounding nutrition during
infancy. Her work aims to explore ways of supporting new mothers to make informed and healthy choices for her infant during the early years.
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