News article

Complementary feeding practices influence dietary intake in infants

Posted:  Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Nutrition status of infants varies with complementary feeding practices

Complementary feeding is essential to meet an infant’s growing energy requirements, and this can be achieved by following two approaches. In baby-led weaning (BLW), the infants are allowed to feed themselves; while in traditional spoon-feeding (TSF), the infants are fed by their parents. However, the impact of the complementary feeding strategy on the infants’ dietary pattern and nutritional status remains unknown.

A new cross-sectional study published in the journal, BMJ Open looked at the dietary intake and feeding behaviours of infants aged 6–8 months (n=25 BLW, 26 TSF). Data on the nutrient consumption and feeding behaviour were collected from parents through questionnaires and weight diet records.

BLW infants fed themselves all or most of the food at the initiation of complementary feeding compared to TSF infants. There was no statistically significant difference in the consumption of foods thought to pose a choking risk between the two groups, and the energy intake was also similar across both the groups.

The study, which was conducted by Brittany Morison and her colleagues from the University of Otago, New Zealand, also looked at food intake. BLW infants were found to consume more saturated fat but lower amounts of iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 than TSF infants. BLW infants were more likely to eat with their family at lunch and at the dinner time.

The study concluded that BLW may be associated with a number of beneficial health-related behaviours. Future research may be directed towards investigating the risk of micronutrient deficiency in BLW infants. The extent to which differences in total and saturated fat intake remain at 12 months also needs to be investigated.

News Source: Morison BJ, Taylor RW, Haszard JJ, Schramm CJ, Erickson LW, Fangupo LJ, Fleming EA, Luciano A, Heath AL. How different are baby-led weaning and conventional complementary feeding? A cross-sectional study of infants aged 6–8 months. BMJ open. 2016 May 1;6(5)10665.