Bayo Ajibola

The truth about Obesity and spoon-feeding your baby

Feeding your baby inappropriate foods will by all means predispose your baby to childhood obesity. A new study however has found another possible cause of childhood obesity that has nothing to do with the type of food you give your child. The study says that spoon-feeding your child could lead to them being obese.

Scientists from Swansea University believe that the babies that are permitted to feed themselves in the weaning processhave a less likelihood of overeating and consequently being overweight toddlers. Babies that are spoon-fed are also more likely to be fussy eaters and may have a hard time knowing when they are full, the study also said.

Most parents that insist on feeding their children usually have a ‘target’ amount of food for the baby to finish and they will most probably continue feeding them until it is attained. The baby may become fussy in one way or another if they are full but since they are already fussy eaters their non-verbal ‘pleas’ would probably be ignored before the targeted amount is attained.

Allowing the baby to feed herself gives her leeway to eat at her own pace and helps her determine for herself when she will be full. The baby will be better able to control how much food she eats as opposed to the targets a parent would set. In the long run it reduces the chances that the child will become overweight.

Baby-led weaning is more likely to create better eating habits for the child since they will most probably be given solid foods as opposed to pureed foods. The baby should be able to pick up their own food and eat until they feel that they are satiated.

The study itself was conducted on 298 babies. It started with an analysis of how solid foods were introduced to the baby’s diet between six and 12 months. After a while, the same batch of babies was studied when they were between 18 and 24 months. Those that had been allowed to feed themselves earlier turned out to have more control over their appetite and were better able to stop eating when they sensed that they were full. This means that there was less likelihood of them being overweight.

Solid foods also provide more variety with regard to taste so the baby gets to experience something new more often than not. Allowing the baby to pick up items like pasta shapes or bread sticks from the time they start weaning also teaches the babyto chew instead of just swallowing.

Children that have a more restricted approach to mealtimes may feel ‘pressured’ to ‘perform’ and make their parents happy thus would continue eating even if they are full. Fullness now becomes associated with what the parent’s face looks like as opposed to the feeling in the tummy.

In the long run the baby’s relationship with food may lead to obesity since they would continue eating large amounts of food. The NHS however maintains that this is all hypothetical and that the key determinant of obesity remains what they eat and not how they eat it.

Honestly, NHS may have a point since babies have no teeth at six months. They may not be able to eat some foods. For that reason you will end up giving them mashed or pureed food. Imagine giving mashed bananas for your baby to eat with their hands. Quite messy!

Spoons are more of a convenient less messy method of ensuring your child eats since every mother already has enough mess to deal with and that which she can avoid she will definitely give it a shot. Make sure that whatever pureed food you give to your child is mot from a supermarket aisle. Mash and blend the same natural food you would eat for your child to make sure that they are getting the right amount and type of nutrients from food.

You can also serve up smaller portions of food and the child should be able to ask for more if they are not full. Avoid force-feeding since a baby will ideally not starve just because they are eating less than you expect them to. Different strokes for different folks.


Bayo Ajibola

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