Daily Health Headlines

'Baby-Led' Weaning Doesn't Raise Choking Risk: Study

👤by Amy Norton 0 comments 🕔Monday, September 19th, 2016

MONDAY, Sept. 19, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Babies who feed themselves solid foods early on may not be at increased risk of choking, a new clinical trial suggests.

The study tested a popular trend known as "baby-led" weaning: Instead of introducing solid foods the traditional way -- spoon-feeding rice cereal, for instance -- parents let their babies feed themselves soft finger foods.

Advocates claim the approach helps babies develop motor skills, become less picky eaters and possibly have a lower risk of obesity later in life because they are controlling how much they eat.

But there are also concerns, including the potential for choking, said senior study author Rachael Taylor, a research associate professor at the University of Otago, in New Zealand.

To dig into the question, she and her colleagues randomly assigned 206 mothers to either introduce solid foods the traditional way or try the baby-led approach. Moms in that second group were given education on how to safely let their babies feed themselves.

For one, the baby should be able to sit up; Taylor's team "strongly encouraged" parents in the baby-led group to delay solids until the age of 6 months.

Second, any food should pass the "squish test," said Taylor.

"Make sure that you can squash the foods you offer your baby on the roof of your mouth," she said. That means certain soft cooked vegetables would be OK, for instance, but raw vegetables would be out -- as would raw apple or other fruits that are hard or contain seeds.

And no matter what the food, Taylor said, parents should always supervise while their baby eats.

In this study, babies who fed themselves were no more likely to choke than those who were spoon-fed. Between the ages of 6 and 8 months, 35 percent of all babies in the study choked at least once, based on parents' reports -- with no significant difference between the two groups.

On the other hand, the study found that babies in both groups were commonly given foods that pose a choking risk: More than half were given risky foods at the age of 7 months, and nearly all were given them at 12 months.

Raw vegetables and hard crackers were among the most common offenders.

"We were very surprised that so many babies were being offered foods that could pose a choking hazard," Taylor said.

This suggests that many parents need more information on how to safely introduce solid foods, according to Taylor. "But they also need education on the importance of always being with their child when they're eating, and knowing what to do if their child chokes," she added.

Dr. Anthony Porto, a pediatrician who was not involved in the study, agreed.

It's always a good idea for expectant parents to take an infant and child CPR class, which typically includes instruction on how to handle choking, according to Porto. He is associate clinical chief of pediatric gastroenterology at Yale University.

As for baby-led feeding, he offered a few precautions.

For one, parents in this study had professional guidance on how to do it, said Porto.

"This was carefully designed, and families were well-supported through the process," he said. "So I'm not sure how reflective this is of what parents are doing in the 'real world.' "

Plus, choking is not the only issue when introducing solids, Porto pointed out. Parents should also consider the nutrients in the foods they're offering.

In general, child health experts recommend that babies be exclusively breast-fed for the first six months, then have "complementary" foods gradually added to their diets. Because breast milk has little iron, Porto said, pediatricians usually recommend introducing a food source with the mineral -- such as iron-fortified baby cereal or baby food containing meat.

Taylor said her team is currently reviewing whether babies in their study face any increased risk of slow growth or iron deficiency.

In an earlier study, she said, infants in the baby-led group seemed to have lower intakes of iron, zinc and vitamin B12. But at this point, she added, there's no evidence they're at risk of nutrient deficiencies.

At the same time, though, it's still unclear whether baby-led weaning has special advantages, either, Porto pointed out. "There's no definitive data that it decreases obesity risk, for example," he said.

For now, Porto suggests that parents who are interested in the approach get advice from their pediatrician or a dietitian on how to go about it.

"You should try to do what's best from a safety standpoint, an allergy standpoint, and a nutrition standpoint," he said.

The findings were published online Sept. 19 in the journal Pediatrics.

Article Credits / Source

Amy Norton / HealthDay

Amy Norton wrote this story for HealthDay. HealthDay provides up to the minute breaking health news. Click here to view this full article from HealthDay.

SOURCES: Rachael Taylor, Ph.D., research associate professor, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand; Anthony Porto, M.D., assistant professor, pediatrics, associate clinical chief, pediatric gastroenterology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.; Sept. 19, 2016, Pediatrics, online

View More Articles From Amy Norton 🌎View Article Website

Sponsored Product

Lunar Sleep for $1.95

Lunar Sleep for $1.95

People who have trouble sleeping typically have low levels of melatonin, so melatonin supplements seem like a logical fix for insomnia. There is a high demand for sleep aids, especially in the U.S. The National Health Interview Survey done in 2002, and again in 2007, found 1.6 million US adults were using complementary and alternative sleep aids for insomnia. Lunar Sleep was a top choice. Use Promo Code: Sleep2014 and only pay $1.95 S&H.

Get Lunar Sleep for $1.95

More Pediatrics / Healthy Kids Articles

Survival Tips for Holiday Road Trips

Survival Tips for Holiday Road Trips0

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 23, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- If you're among the millions of Americans planning to hit the highway over the Thanksgiving holiday, it's important to anticipate bumps in the road, according to a group dedicated to public education and ...

'Enthusiastic' Dads May Mean Less Troubled Kids: Study

'Enthusiastic' Dads May Mean Less Troubled Kids: Study0

TUESDAY, Nov. 22, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- While quality time spent with kids is always important, new research suggests it's a man's attitude that's key to raising happy children. The British study found that the babies of confident, ...

Keep Kids in Mind When Politics Intrude at Thanksgiving

Keep Kids in Mind When Politics Intrude at Thanksgiving0

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 23, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- This Thanksgiving, especially, political differences could spark dinner-table debates that quickly escalate. Two psychiatrists warn that these heated exchanges can harm kids who may overhear ...

Health Tip: Keep Kids Safe During the Holidays

Health Tip: Keep Kids Safe During the Holidays0

(HealthDay News) -- A host of new hazards for young children creep up during the holidays. Here are suggestions for parents and caregivers to help keep kids safe, courtesy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Supervise ...

TV Snack Ads Make Preschoolers Snack More: Study

TV Snack Ads Make Preschoolers Snack More: Study0

MONDAY, Nov. 21, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Preschoolers who watched "Sesame Street" interrupted by TV ads for a salty snack food ended up eating more of that food soon after, a new study found. The finding suggests that "young children remain ...

View More Pediatrics / Healthy Kids Articles

0 Comments

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Mailing List

Subscribe to our mailing list to get the latest health news as it breaks!

Your information will not be shared with anyone!