Baby Led Weaning

A quick statement from Dr Ellen Townsend re BLW in the BMJ

by Aitch

I say statement, really I just buzzed her and said ‘givvusitinplainEnglish’… and she is a kind woman so she complied despite this probably being Quite A Busy Day for her. She says;

“We conducted a survey-based study with parents. Some of whom had used traditional spoon feeding and some who had used a baby-led approach. We asked them about their child’s food likes and how often they ate 151 different foods.

We then compared the groups on their liking for foods in the major food categories (carbs, proteins etc). What we found was that children weaned using a BLW approach like carbohydrates more than the spoon fed children. (In fact they liked carbohydrates the most as compared to the spoon fed children who like sweet foods the most.)

This is interesting because carbohydrates form the building blocks of healthy nutrition (being found at the bottom of the food pyramid). We also looked at health outcomes and found that BLW children generally had lower BMI compared to spoon-fed children. There was a small incidence of underweight in the BLW group but a larger incidence of obesity in the spoon fed group.

Carbohydrates are an ideal first finger food – so what we may be seeing here is an ‘age on introduction effect’ where BLW children are exposed to these foods in their whole food format earlier on. In relation to the BMI findings it could be that BLW learn to self regulate their intake because they are given control of the feeding process. We need longitudinal studies now that can tease apart our findings further.”

Tell you what I’m interested in… the breast-feeding rates seem high in both groups. I’m wondering whether that’s a good thing in terms of correlation of samples or whether it throws everything up in the air a bit. Anyway, I’ve asked her and hope that she’ll answer when she gets a minute.

I did ask if we BLWers should be worried by the fact that some of our kids were underweight and the answer came back “Not a big worry – most children in both groups were a healthy weight for their age and gender…”