Let baby control early eating of solids

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, Development/Milestones: Babies

In an study from the U.K., babies whose mothers give them more control over their early attempts at eating solid food appear to do a better job of regulating their own weight. Parental attitudes toward a child's eating behavior are known to affect the child's risk of becoming overweight or having feeding problems. Children who are pressured to eat or whose food intake is strictly regulated by their parents, for example, are less able to regulate their own eating in response to hunger.

In the investigations, researchers followed 69 mother-child pairs for the child's first year of life. When the child was six months old, the researchers rated the degree of controlling behavior mothers exhibited while feeding their children solids. Women were rated on a scale of 1 to 9 from being not controlling at all, meaning they allowed the child to control his or her own eating while supervising, or very controlling, meaning they were "continuously forcing, offering, positioning or distracting the infant to eat.

Among the infants whose mothers were less controlling, those who gained weight slowly from birth to six months packed on the pounds faster from six to 12 months of age, while the infants who gained quickly in the first six months of life gained more slowly from six to 12 months. Both scenarios suggest the infants were able to regulate their own weight gain, the researchers note. However, babies whose mothers were more controlling showed a steadier weight gain --meaning those who gained weight quickly at first continued to do so, while those with slower weight gain continued to gain weight more slowly. The scientists concluded that in normal samples of infants, the promotion of infant autonomy in feeding may be advantageous in appropriate regulation of weight during the first year of life.

This study, published in Pediatrics, may be helpful to those of you concerned about your baby becoming too heavy. Check on your own behavior to see if you are perhaps a bit too controlling.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.