Gill Rapley sent me this last month, which i responded enthusuastically to at the time and then dd2 deleted it from my computer...
However, thanks to the wonders of webmail I managed to retrieve it today, and thought of you all. (Especially those of you with doubting grandparents to contend with.)
So, Gill sayeth:
"I thought you might be interested in this breaking news! There is a fabulous paper just published, which is about as positive as you could wish an academic paper to be, about BLW! It's not in print yet but it's coming. Here's the reference:
Wright CM, Cameron K, Tsiaka M, et al. Is baby-led weaning feasible? When do babies first reach out for and eat finger foods? Matern Child Nutr 2010;10.1111/j.1740-8709.2010.00274.x [doi].
The study used data from the Gateshead Millenium Study, and the lead author is Charlotte Wright - all excellent credentials. In a nutshell, the authors found that, based on when babies began to reach out for food and feed themselves, BLW is "probably feasible for a majority of infants". There is a caveat that it could lead to nutritional problems for infants who are relatively developmentally delayed - but then again, no-one has ever claimed otherwise.
The GMS data show when the babies began reaching out for food and feeding themselves, and how many finger foods they were having (type and frequency) at six and eight months. The authors acknowledge that these babies were born (June 1999-May 2000) before either the six months recommendation or BLW had come into being, and that the parents' reports may therefore represent low parental expectations of their infants' self-feeding capacity, rather than genuine lack of ability. In other words, if they'd given them the opportunity earlier, who knows? So the fact that, on the basis of the data they do have, they are able to conclude that BLW is "probably feasible" for the majority is just great!"