Study Reveals Baby-led Weaning Doesn’t Increase Risk Of Choking

New research has revealed allowing your baby to feed themselves their first solid foods, aka baby-led weaning, isn’t more likely to cause choking than spoon-feeding purees to your little one.

baby eating watermelon

What is baby-led weaning?

Baby-led weaning is all about letting babies take control of their first foray into solids, by allowing them to try appropriately-sized pieces of food on their own.

Rather than being spoon-fed, babies lead the weaning process themselves, free to eat the foods they choose themselves from what is offered.

The latest recommendation from the World Health Organisation is that babies should start trying solids at six-months-old, when their nutritional needs change.

Many parents opt to make bland, easily palatable foods like baby cereal or vegetable and fruit purees their baby’s first solids.

However, baby-led weaning means simply offering babies suitable pieces of food and allowing them to feed themselves, and choose what they do and don’t eat.

baby eating bread

Baby-led weaning not more likely to cause choking

Concerns that this way of introducing solids is a potential choking hazard has prompted several studies. The most recent New Zealand research has found that the baby-led approach to feeding doesn’t appear any more likely to cause choking than traditional spoon-feeding.

But the study did discover that the number of children choking using both feeding methods is worryingly high.

Initially, the study was conducted to see if baby-led weaning was suitable in preventing obesity, but researchers only recently looked at the incidents of choking among the study group.

What the authors of the study discovered:

  • The infants who participated in baby-led weaning didn’t appear to choke any more often than the spoon-fed infants.
  • Serious choking events occurred in both groups when the infants weren’t closely supervised.
  • More work is needed to make sure parents know how to provide safe foods.
  • It’s essential parents are taught how to deal with choking episodes.

For more information on what to do if your baby is choking, take a look at this guide. More information on the baby-led weaning study is available at the American Academy of Pediatrics.

If you want some great, healthy food ideas for bigger kids, take a look at our Healthy Kids Cookbook


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