There are a lot of ways to feed a baby…and one of the more popular approaches is modeled on the philosophy called baby-led weaning. With baby-led weaning, you bypass spoon-feeding of pureed food and encourage babies to self-feed age appropriate foods.
Although the practice of allowing a baby to self-feed has been around for generations, the term was only recently coined by British feeding expert and author of the Baby-Led Weaning Book, Gill Rapley, PhD. Proponents of this approach say it encourages independence, helps babies respond to their hunger and fullness cues and decreases picky eating later in life.
But as with any claim you want to make in the health and wellbeing space…you better have some data to back it up!
A new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that a baby-led approach to complementary feeding resulted in children who had less food fussiness (i.e., picky eating) – a finding also replicated in previous studies. This new study also found that these self-fed babies also did not exhibit any signs of growth faltering – meaning that a baby-led approach to feeding can likely meet a healthy baby’s nutrition needs.
Some proponents of the baby-led approach to feeding maintain that it leads to healthier weight and can help prevent overweight and obesity down the line (compared to spoon-feeding). This particular study indicated that a baby-led approach to complementary feeding does not appear to reduce risk for overweight compared with traditional feeding practices (although it didn’t increase risk of underweight either!)
The study was part of the 2-year Baby-Led Introduction to Solids (BLISS) randomized clinical trial and it included 206 women followed from pregnancy in New Zealand. Although this particular study was small, it is an important contribution to the growing body of literature that supports a baby-led approach to feeding as a viable and safe alternative to spoon-feeding.
There’s not always a ton of good news on the kids nutrition front. But here’s a little bright spot: according to the USDA, more kids are eating fruits and vegetables.
While the majority of kids still don’t meet the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables consumed per day, at least intake levels are on the rise.
Not surprisingly, on a daily basis, kids do eat more servings of fruit than they do vegetables. Based on a recent analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2009-2010), here’s what’s happening:
- 77% of kids aged 2–19 years ate fruit on a given day
- Almost 92% of those aged 2–19 years ate vegetables on a given day.
- Nine out of 10 kids aged 2–5 years consumed fruit, while only 6 out of 10 adolescents ate fruit on a given day.
- More children aged 2–5 years than adolescents consumed vegetables on a given day.
So if you have kids at home, be sure to include at least one fruit or vegetable at each meal…and more if possible!
Babies, toddlers and young children who are exposed to a greater variety of foods are more likely to continue those patterns into adolescence and adulthood.
Seems like everywhere you turn these days, there’s more and more gluten free foods for sale.
In fact, Mintel estimates that the gluten free market was worth $10 billion in 2013. An interesting statistic when you consider that only about 1% of the population truly has celiac disease.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease characterized by the inability to tolerate gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye and barley.
The only therapy for celiac disease is lifelong adherence to a gluten free diet. But many people choose to follow a gluten-free diet, even if they don’t have celiac disease.
Some claim going gluten-free helps increase energy, might promote weight loss or helps them deal with gluten sensitivity issues…although there is not a consistent body of research to support all claims.
But just because a food is gluten free does not necessarily make it a “health food”. Actually, according to Food Navigator and flour milling company Ardent Mills, about 43% of the new gluten free foods introduced in 2013 were for gluten free snack foods like crackers, cookies or chips.
These highly processed snack foods – gluten-free or not – are foods we shouldn’t be eating that much of to begin with. Eating more cookies, cakes, crackers or chips is not going to help improve your health – no matter what your individual situation is!
So if you’re considering going gluten-free, make sure you don’t replace unnecessary calories from processed snack foods with gluten-free versions of the same!
A better approach is to look for and include foods that are naturally gluten-free, like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and dairy. For some good resources about gluten-free gains, check out the Whole Grains Council page on the topic here.