Starting to give a baby solid foods can seem daunting. Baby-led weaning – offering finger foods from the family diet for babies to feed themselves – is becoming more popular, and is often thought to promote healthier eating habits.
However, many mothers worry about the risk of choking and decide spoon feeding pureed foods is the safest way to start.
New research, published in December 2017,1 has found no difference in the frequency of choking between babies who were given solids using baby-led weaning, and those who were spoon fed. In total 13.6% of infants had ever choked.
The biggest risk to choking on finger foods was to babies who mostly had a pureed diet and were only given finger foods infrequently.
The authors emphasised that the sample of 1,151 mothers who took part were self-selecting and so the results were limited by noncausal results and reliability of recall.
While the sample included infants from 4-12 months, LLLGB supports the WHO recommendations that mothers worldwide exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, they should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.2 Breastmilk remains a key part of a baby’s diet after the introduction of other foods.
You can find more about introducing solids here.