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How Feasible Is Baby-Led Weaning as an Approach to Infant Feeding? A Review of the Evidence
Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin 9050, New Zealand
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 25 August 2012; in revised form: 5 October 2012 / Accepted: 23 October 2012 / Published: 2 November 2012
Abstract: Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) is an alternative method for introducing complementary foods to infants in which the infant feeds themselves hand-held foods instead of being spoon-fed by an adult. The BLW infant also shares family food and mealtimes and is offered milk (ideally breast milk) on demand until they self-wean. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many parents are choosing this method instead of conventional spoon-feeding of purées. Observational studies suggest that BLW may encourage improved eating patterns and lead to a healthier body weight, although it is not yet clear whether these associations are causal. This review evaluates the literature with respect to the prerequisites for BLW, which we have defined as beginning complementary foods at six months (for safety reasons), and exclusive breastfeeding to six months (to align with WHO infant feeding guidelines); the gross and oral motor skills required for successful and safe self-feeding of whole foods from six months; and the practicalities of family meals and continued breastfeeding on demand. Baby-Led Weaning will not suit all infants and families, but it is probably achievable for most. However, ultimately, the feasibility of BLW as an approach to infant feeding can only be determined in a randomized controlled trial. Given the popularity of BLW amongst parents, such a study is urgently needed.
Keywords: infant; Baby-Led Weaning; breastfeeding; complementary feeding
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Cameron, S.L.; Heath, A.-L.M.; Taylor, R.W. How Feasible Is Baby-Led Weaning as an Approach to Infant Feeding? A Review of the Evidence. Nutrients 2012, 4, 1575-1609.
Cameron SL, Heath A-LM, Taylor RW. How Feasible Is Baby-Led Weaning as an Approach to Infant Feeding? A Review of the Evidence. Nutrients. 2012; 4(11):1575-1609.
Cameron, Sonya L.; Heath, Anne-Louise M.; Taylor, Rachael W. 2012. "How Feasible Is Baby-Led Weaning as an Approach to Infant Feeding? A Review of the Evidence." Nutrients 4, no. 11: 1575-1609.