According to research carried out by Nottingham University, allowing babies to eat finger foods could help to reduce levels of childhood obesity. The researchers also found that babies who were fed pureed foods using a spoon, tended to be more likely to become overweight.
The study involved 155 children, aged between 20 months and six years of age. Parents completed questionnaires with details of their child’s eating habits. The children were split into two groups; one half who were spoon fed as babies and the other half who fed themselves with finger foods. Although a large number of children in the study had attained a healthy weight, the study found that the babies who were fed pureed foods from a spoon were more likely to be obese.
Other factors were taken into account which could have an effect on the weight of a child, like social background, the birth weight of the baby, whether they were bottle or breast fed. However, the differences in weight remained. The lead researcher, Dr Ellen Townsend believes that healthy eating for a child is influenced by letting them feed themselves with finger foods. The questionnaires which were completed by parents indicate that children who were fed pureed fruit and vegetables from a spoon are more likely to prefer the taste of sweet foods later in life, whereas kids who could help themselves to chunky foods tended to prefer carbohydrates like pasta or pitta bread.
The results of the research are also an indication that babies and children who feed themselves are more likely to stop eating when they are full. Parents who feed their child using a spoon will try to empty the dish, possibly feeding more than is required. Experts believe that further studies are needed, as the research appears to suggest that healthy eating for kids can be influenced by weaning methods.