Baby Led Weaning

Growing healthy babies with healthy appetites

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

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…”

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15 Responses to “A quick statement from Dr Ellen Townsend re BLW in the BMJ”

  1. Brig says:

    I also wanted to know more about the low weights- could it be because the average normal weight is that of traditionally spoon-fed children anyway?

    • Aitch says:

      Yes, that’s something I had wondered too, Brig. If ‘averages’ are gleaned from a population all doing the same thing (the thing in this instance that might make one more heavy) then doesn’t that call the average into question? I wonder when that data was gathered?

  2. Aitch says:

    btw as per usual the chat is taking place on the forum (click above) or on FB…

  3. I think we all eat far too many carbs anyway so I don’t believe this is a good food to start babies on as carbs can be addictive. I think fruit and veg are so much better for babies and I believe babies will never overeat with these foods. I think we overeat as our bodies are starved of nutrients and are telling us we are still hungry so we eat nutrients. Unfortunately we just eat more empty calories such as white rice, which leads to us becoming overweight. I think baby led weaning works reallly well as long as you are only offering healthy food to your baby.

    • Andrea says:

      Yes, but there must be more to it.
      From what I can see, BLW children in general do tend to go for carbs (bread, pasta, rice, etc.), while all the children seem to snub veg (while some like fruit). There must be something in their imprinting that tells them to do that that goes beyond the habits that are being given.
      I know of no child who eat regularly loads of veg, while I know plenty children who will eat pasta (possibly with veg in it)

      • Aitch says:

        So do you mean BLW children in general wouldn’t eat their own body weight in broccoli, cucumber, carrots etc? Cos just judging by my own two, I’d not agree with you. Of course they do both like pasta, no question about that.

  4. Aitch says:
    see what you think of this answer re the carbs thing, Katherine.

  5. Andrea says:

    Well, from what I hear on my board, veg are not top of the agenda… Even my one does like her broccoli and especially tomatoes, but in general she is not overly keen on veg (and the article seems to confirm the trend).
    From what I see (which means next to nothing) children after a certain age (15-18 months or so) struggle primarily with veg and fish, followed (I’d say) by meat.
    Interestingly (and again the article seems right), I don’t see a great deal of sweets-mania among “my” BLW children.

    How can I get a notification that a reply has been posted?

  6. Aitch says:

    doesn’t one come automatically? it should do, to whichever email you signed in under. From what i have observed with lots of kids, regardless of weaning, they seem to telescope down their food choices for a while, which i have read may relate to increased independence from adults in ‘the cave’ as it were. smart to not want to try new things for a while, i reckon, if those juicy red berries might be poisonous. i don’t really know what you mean, though, that veg aren’t top of the agenda, need they be? carbs, fruit and veg, protein, dairy and fats, in that order roughly. i personally never cared how few mine were eating (both went down to about four favourites for a while) so long as they were eating them, in whatever form. I’ve said it before and i will no doubt say it again, crudites while I cooked dinner saved my life, just because after they’d eaten their carrots and cucumber or whatever i was very relaxed about what they ate with their meals.

  7. Andrea says:

    Not to me… I am receiving no notification:( I would expect that in a wordpress blog there is a box to tick if I wish to be notified and then an email follows asking for confirmation.

    What I meant is that it seems to ME that veg rarely (if ever) top the “favourite food” list (this is what I meant with “top of the agenda”), so I wonder why that is the case.

    From what I see pasta, bread, rice, etc often do top the list of favourite foods. It cannot be coincidental.

    Is there something in the make up of a small child that pushes him towards this category of foods, rather than veg? I mean, is it correct to assume that if a child is given the chance , (perhaps) he would instinctively know that carbs are better for him, while veg are not?

  8. Aitch says:

    must be a glitch, sorry.

    isn’t it in the make up of human beings that they go for carbs in the main? it’s not exclusive to children, surely? i’m not a nutritionist but isn’t that the balanced diet that we should all have, mostly starch followed by veg/fruit, then proteins, dairy, fat?

  9. Andrea says:

    Carbs certainly are at the base of the food pyramid
    (random link – no affiliation whatsoever)
    but if that is the case, children then know WITHOUT BEING TOLD what is best for them, while we need a nutritionist to remind us:)

  10. Andrea says:

    Yes, I do know the Clara Davies experiment (who doesn’t?:)
    No, I have not read the other one. I’ll have a look tomorrow when I am slightly more awake.
    Thanks for the tip.

    • Aitch says:

      The other link is the Clara Davis stuff viewed from a more modern perspective, pointing out the flaws in the thinking but giving an overview. And plenty of people don’t know about that experimentation, do keep spreading the word, it’s a fascinating bit of history as well as a good indicator of our children’s ability to get what they want from what they are offered.

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