No chok­ing risk rise in self-feed­ing ba­bies, says study

Western Mail - - NEWS - Claire Hay­hurst news­desk@waleson­

AL­LOW­ING ba­bies to feed them­selves solid foods rather than spoon-feed­ing them does not in­crease the risk of chok­ing, re­search has found.

A study by Swansea Uni­ver­sity found no dif­fer­ence in how of­ten ba­bies choked when they fed them­selves from as young as six months old.

More than 1,000 moth­ers with a baby aged be­tween four and 12 months took part in the re­search.

They re­ported how they gave their baby solid foods, what foods they gave them and whether their baby had ever choked.

Over­all, there was no dif­fer­ence in how of­ten a baby choked among ba­bies who fed them­selves, fed them­selves and were spoon-fed, or were mainly spoon­fed.

Dr Amy Brown, as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor in Child Health at Swansea Uni­ver­sity, said: “Fol­low­ing a baby-led wean­ing ap­proach where you al­low your baby to sim­ply self-feed fam­ily foods, rather than pre­par­ing spe­cial pureed or mashed foods to spoon-feed, has been grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity over the last 10 years in the UK and other coun­tries.

“How­ever, some peo­ple have ex­pressed con­cerns over whether this is safe, and might put ba­bies at risk of chok­ing.

“This study adds to pre­vi­ous re­search con­ducted in smaller sam­ple groups that also showed this ap­proach does not in­crease the risk of a baby chok­ing, and in­deed in the UK, sup­ports the De­part­ment of Health rec­om­men­da­tion that ba­bies can have fin­ger foods from six months old.”

In 2002 it was rec­om­mended that ba­bies were not given solid foods un­til the age of six months, though some moth­ers still in­tro­duce them ear­lier.

The rec­om­men­da­tion fol­lowed re­search that showed wait­ing could re­duce the risk of certain ill­nesses, such as gas­troen­teri­tis.

Ba­bies are also not de­vel­op­men­tally ready to sit up and swal­low food un­til around the age of six months.

At this age, ba­bies can pick up foods, put them in their mouths and chew – re­mov­ing the need for spoon-feed­ing soft foods.

Milk should form the ma­jor part of a baby’s diet as they get used to tastes and tex­tures, with just 250 calo­ries per day needed from food un­til they are nine months old.

The re­search sug­gests that babyled wean­ing does not pose a chok­ing risk, as long as foods known to be a risk are avoided.

Ba­bies are skilled at eat­ing a wide va­ri­ety of foods and can chew well with­out teeth.

How­ever, the re­searchers say that par­ents should con­sider what food they are giv­ing – as well as shape and size – and speak to their health vis­i­tor if in doubt.

Chil­dren should not have whole nuts un­til the age of five and ba­bies should not be given hard foods that can snap into small pieces in their mouths, such as raw ap­ple slices or car­rot chunks.

Ba­bies should also not be given gelati­nous foods such as pieces of sausage, raw jelly cubes or sticky sweets.

A spokes­woman from Swansea Uni­ver­sity added: “The new study shows that there was a small in­creased risk of chok­ing with very sticky foods such as thick chunks of bread that might get stuck, at least tem­po­rar­ily, in the throat, or large chunks of very slip­pery foods which might ac­ci­den­tally slip in a baby’s grasp and be swal­lowed whole, such as large hard chunks of melon and av­o­cado, or very ripe ba­nana.

“There was also a small in­creased risk when spoon-feed­ing very dry, lumpy purees that if given in too big a spoon­ful might get stuck in a baby’s throat. Smaller, softer ver­sions of these foods should not pose a prob­lem.

“Re­gard­less of their method, a care­giver should al­ways stay with their baby through­out a meal.”

The re­search, pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Hu­man Nutri­tion and Di­etet­ics, in­volved 1,151 moth­ers.

> Al­low­ing ba­bies to feed them­selves solid foods rather than spoon-feed­ing them does not in­crease the risk of chok­ing, re­search has found

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