Nutrition during infancy may have a long-term impact upon weight gain and eating style. How infants are introduced to solid foods may be important. 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 this may promote healthy eating styles, but evidence is sparse. The aim of the current study was to compare child eating behaviour at 18–24 months between infants weaned using a traditional weaning approach and those weaned using a baby-led weaning style.
Two hundred ninety-eight mothers with an infant aged 18–24 months completed a longitudinal, self-report questionnaire. In Phase One, mothers with an infant aged 6–12 months reported breastfeeding duration, timing of solid foods, weaning style (baby-led or standard) and maternal control, measured using the Child Feeding Questionnaire. At 18–24 months, post-partum mothers completed a follow-up questionnaire examining child eating style (satiety-responsiveness, food-responsiveness, fussiness, enjoyment of food) and reported child weight.
Infants weaned using a baby-led approach were significantly more satiety-responsive and less likely to be overweight compared with those weaned using a standard approach. This was independent of breastfeeding duration, timing of introduction to complementary foods and maternal control.
A baby-led weaning approach may encourage greater satiety-responsiveness and healthy weight-gain trajectories in infants. However, the limitations of a self-report correlational study are noted. Further research using randomized controlled trial is needed.