Skip the Spoon: Babies May Eat Better When They Feed Themselves.

[deleted account] ( 56 moms have responded )

Spooning strained peas into a baby is the traditional way to start solid food. But babies might be better off feeding themselves.



That's the surprising result of a new study that compared the food preferences and weight of babies who fed themselves finger food with those who were spoon-fed.



Both groups of children had equal exposure to snack foods. But the babies who fed themselves preferred carbohydrates like toast, pasta or potatoes, while the spoon-fed children went for sweets when given a choice.



You'd think the children who controlled their own eating would be heavier, but not so. The spoon-fed crew was the one that was more likely to be obese as toddlers. Eight of the 63 spoon-fed children became obese, while none of the 63 self-feeding children were.



"That was interesting," says Ellen Townsend, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Nottingham in England, who led the study. "Maybe with spoon feeding, if you've lovingly prepared a delicious portion, and you might want to get that portion into that child. There may be a temptation to try to get in an extra spoonful or two."





The "self-weaning babies" might like carbs because they're easier to chew and tend to have nice textures, the researchers say. They want to do further research to see if breast-feeding and picky eating play a role.



The study, which was published in the journal BMJ Open, was small, and based on parents' recollections. But Townsend says it should reassure parents that it's OK to let the child take care of food choices, as long as the parents are providing nutritious options like fruits and vegetables, proteins, and iron-rich foods like hard-boiled eggs or strips of meat.



The good news is that most of the children were of a healthy weight, regardless of how they were fed as babies.



As for Townsend, she was holding her 9-month-old daughter when I called her in England today. What's that baby eating for dinner?



"She'll sit down with us tonight and have pork chops, string beans, some baby sweet corn, and probably some potatoes," Townsend says.



Like many parents with more than one child, she doesn't have the time to cook up special baby food. And her children seem perfectly happy to eat what's on the family table.



http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/02...





Thoughts??

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Celeste - posted on 02/10/2012

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"not to mention a 4mo old can't feed themselves"



Sherri, that's why Baby led solids are meant for babies 6+ months..

[deleted account]

Well at 4 months they shouldn't be really eating solids anyways. They say 6 months at the earliest.

Hope - posted on 02/12/2012

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Well I am with you Sherri, I start all 3 of my boys on rice cereal at 4-5 months. My now 8 month old was not a happy baby till I started him on the cereal. I would not sleep for more then 40 minutes during the day and would wake up 2-3 times a night. He was always overtired and cranky. When I started him on solids his sleeping pattern changed and the whole house hold was happier. So judge if you want but each child is different. The sad thing is I waited till 5 months because of everyones opinions of starting too early, even though I new he needed solids to be a happy baby.

Johnny - posted on 02/12/2012

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Who cares? People who do not want their child's stomachs to be filled up by what basically amounts to a filler. Rice cereal, aside from the added vitamin supplements, is devoid of nutritional benefit. A child receiving breast milk or formula is getting those vitamins anyway. So why would one want to force a child to fill themselves up on something that has no nutritional benefit rather than taking in breast milk or formula which at least benefits their growth? Empty calories are not beneficial.



On the other hand, fruits and vegetables like avocados, mangos, yams, and parsnips have great nutritional content and work well as starter foods. They can be offered by spoon or as finger food. I still don't understand why people choose rice cereal for children who do not come from families with a history of food allergies.

Celeste - posted on 02/11/2012

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No one is saying anyone is wrong! They're just saying that 8 out of the 63 kids who were spoon fed were overweight. That's 7.8% That doesn't mean that your child is going to be overweight if baby is spoon fed, because obviously, that's not the case for all children. Having done both spoon feeding and baby led solids, it's just a study..

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Hope - posted on 02/14/2012

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I hated porridge or any cereal for that matter when I was growing up. But now I love porridge, I am like you Vicki, I prefer the traditional porridge and it is better for you.

Vicki - posted on 02/13/2012

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I doubt I'd like Cream of Wheat. I don't like instant or quick porridge, seems like glue although I love chunkier traditional porridge with a bit more bite to it.

Sherri - posted on 02/13/2012

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yummmy Mini Strawberry frosted Shredded Wheat is my absolute favorite!!

Sally - posted on 02/13/2012

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I love weetabix and its way healthier than mac'ds. My kids loved it, still do at 15,23,30 lol

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/13/2012

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I wonder if it is like shredded wheat... I love that crap too. You can just add milk or put hot water on it then drain.... Oh yeah, tasty! Now I am hungry... LOL

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/13/2012

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I have never tried weetabix, not sure we can get it here, i am going to look next time I go grocery shopping... I love warm cereal! mmmm

Stifler's - posted on 02/13/2012

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My son ate weetbix yesterday afternoon he brought me the box so I made it and he ate it. I'ts hard t get him to eat ANYTHING let alone what I want him to eat

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/13/2012

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Cream of wheat is not only individually packaged, it is not all instant. I for one do not like instant cream of wheat or oatmeal.. YUCK!



I LOVE real cream of wheat, it comes in a box and you cook for 3-5 mins on the stove, just as Quick Oats for porridge... YUM! ;) I could eat it everyday... I have no allergies (well except Penicillin but that is not an issue from eating grain). I am not an instant gal, I like to cook my stuff.. LOL



Where my son had terrible gag reflex cereal worked great for him for breakfasts, still does...

Sally - posted on 02/13/2012

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@slyvia, I do know im lucky and i don't look down on parents with fussy eaters unless there the sort that don't bother to offer anything but easy snacks etc. Its a well known fact that some children have mega senstive taste buds and just can't abide the taste of some foods. Others have an issue with lumps, just can't manage with out gagging. Thats no parents fault and people are stupid if they think otherwise. Im sorry if i came across as a bit of a snobby , snotty mum.:-)

[deleted account]

Yea I made sure I gave Gabby a wide variety of foods. The meals I prepare are very culturally diverse, even when she was starting out eating I would just blend whatever we were eating and give it to her. That doesn't stop her from asking for cereal for every meal. She eats what I make, but still asks!

Sylvia - posted on 02/13/2012

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Sally, it's great when it works out that way, but it doesn't always -- my DD also ate what we ate (but mushed up if necessary) when she was a baby, but she was and is the pickiest eater on the planet nevertheless. (Sorry if I sound defensive -- I just get really tired of being told it's my fault she's picky because I didn't give her enough different kinds of food when she was little, since I *totally did* LOL.)

Sylvia - posted on 02/13/2012

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Vicki, I find it revolting also. But then, I like my oatmeal with salt butter rather than sugar etc., which many people find revolting ...

Sally - posted on 02/12/2012

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My kids have were always left to feed themselves when they were able and they always had what we were eating except really spicy food even when their food had to be mushed it was what every we had. I believe that allowing them to feed themselves and giving them what we had is the reason i never had fussy eaters. For me the spoon wasn't an issue when they were small and when they were old enough to manage they had no problem with using one.

Mrs. - posted on 02/12/2012

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If you don't want the extra bits that comes in processed baby cereals, just grind down some brown rice in a food processor and make baby cereal that way...I know beside the point, but I thought I'd add it.



My girl didn't much like being spoon fed, she preferred shoving it into her mouth with her hands. She wasn't a huge fun of cereal either and went for sweet potato, stewed apples or pears or homemade lamb baby food instead.



I felt pressure to persist with the spoon because I thought I was supposed to. Eventually, she took to the spoon, but only when she could lift it to her mouth herself. Now, I wish I read this study before and not tried to push myself into using the spoon when she was happy to shove it into her mouth herself.



And hey...I loved Cream of Wheat when I was a kid. I have gluten probs now, so I can't eat it, but there's no shame in a bit of CofW now andd then.

Lady Heather - posted on 02/12/2012

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Weetabix and cream of wheat are not alike at all! Cream of wheat is like scotch oats in texture - super fine grain and cooked like porridge. I love cream of wheat with cinnamon and raisins. But I don't do cereal for babies because Freja couldn't digest it. The whole experience was awful. Never again. Natural sources of iron only for this baby.

Vicki - posted on 02/12/2012

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Ick sounds revolting lol. My toddler is addicted to Weetbix, it's the first thing he asks for in the morning. The mushiness is just revolting... I prefer cruchy muesli.

Sherri - posted on 02/12/2012

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Instant cream of wheat comes in individual packets like instant oatmeal but looks and has the consistency of baby cereal.

Stifler's - posted on 02/12/2012

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thye're like wheat bars and i pour hot water on them mush it up and add some milk to make it creamier

Stifler's - posted on 02/12/2012

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I didn't say you did Sherri I said a lot of people do.Sounds like mushy weet bix which is what my kids eat for breakfast, Logan loves it.

Sherri - posted on 02/12/2012

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Emma I didn't put mine on solids willy nilly he was put on them by a nutritionist and his pediatrician. He was intaking more than an 11mo old should at 12wks.



Cream of wheat is the consistency of baby cereal. It is smooth with no lumps or texture and is made the same way you would instant oatmeal. Just add hot water and eat.



It is common to customize the hot cereal with the addition of sugar, fruit, or nuts. As a result, several flavors are sold of the instant variety: Original, Apples 'N' Cinnamon, Maple Brown Sugar, Strawberries 'N' Cream, and Cinnamon Swirl.

Merry - posted on 02/12/2012

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Emma its like oatmeal but more runny? Wheat and not oats lol. I never cared for it but my parents loved it.

Stifler's - posted on 02/12/2012

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I agree Sylvia I have seen that a fair bit. If they're not swallowing the spoonful you're giving them too big a spoonful or they just don't want it/aren't ready. It comes from the insistence that solids make kids sleep through the night and need less formula feeds so people start ASAP.



On a side note.. what is cream of wheat???

Vicki - posted on 02/12/2012

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I thought I'd posted in this thread but there's nothing here. I tend to go for the laziest options, and bls needed no extra preparation and just a bit of extra cleaning up. My boy wasn't really interested in solids, he only really had tastes up until around a year and only started eating regular meals at 14 months. He was able to regulate how much he ate, I think if I'd been spoonfeeding him I would have been stressing about him refusing, he really had no interest.



Friends of mine who also did bls had bubs who were enthusiastic about solids from 6 months or a bit earlier. They're all different.

Sherri - posted on 02/12/2012

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I get your point but sometimes feeding them solids isn't a want but a need for the benefit of some kids. My oldest was put on cereal at 12wks because he was intaking almost twice the amt. of formula and had to be put on solids to regulate how much he was intaking. So was his tongue thrust gone yet, no but he couldn't keep drinking 56ozs of formula a day either. So because I refused for the safety of him to put it in his bottle, we had to teach him to eat it off a spoon.



And I must admit we LOVE cream of wheat and bologna in our home. We go through a box of cream of wheat and 1lb-2lbs of bologna a week. LOL!!



Also I have to say I have tried baby cereal and it honestly isn't bad totally reminds me of cream of wheat.

Sylvia - posted on 02/12/2012

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@Sherri -- I know a lot of people swear by those baby cereals. In addition to the total lack of nutritional value (basically, what Johnny said), I personally think baby cereals are really gross, and I wouldn't feed a baby something I couldn't stand to eat myself, but hey, some people enjoy eating Cream of Wheat and Wonder Bread and bologna and all sorts of things I can't stand, and lots of people hate things I really enjoy eating -- whatever. My comment was mostly about the insistence on spoon-feeding babies who are clearly too young for solids. A baby who still has that tongue-thrust reflex is almost certainly not ready, and sitting there scraping the same teaspoonful of cereal off the baby's chin with the spoon and sticking it back in his mouth a dozen times in a row just strikes me as a humungous waste of everybody's time.



Maybe that's just me.

Merry - posted on 02/12/2012

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I tried spoon feeding my son and he wouldn't have it! He never took off at eating til I gave him finger foods around 9-10 months.

My daughter chokes easily and seems not to be good at biting off pieces. So I usually give her small pieces and feed her with my fingers.

She likes purees but I prefer not to give them to her.



But I was trying to do grain free and no processed foods for her but tis so hard because everything she can really feed herself without making a huge mess is grains and processed! So she sometimes gets Cheerios or animal crackers when I need a minute to eat something myself. Otherrwise I try to feed her fruits veggies and meats

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/12/2012

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I am also one that starts my children on cereal first. I add different things to it, mostly different fruits. My son is now 15.5 months and it is still his breakfast in the mornings. He loves it, eats it all! ;) My daughter started on cereal but quickly moved to finger foods and left the cereal altogether. My son however, had a bad gag reflex up until 7 weeks or so ago. I like to make sure he is full before going to Daycare but he gets alot of nutrional foods throughout the day, the cereal now is really just to get his belly going for the day (and fill him). I also eat cream of wheat religiously, I love it! YUM I started my son on cereal at about 4.5 months because he was starving all the time...



We have zero allergies in our home and I and my DH were started on cereal as well....



My daughter also only ate jarred food for a month or two but my son ate it for 8 full months, due to his gag reflex and that I couldn't make enough of an assortment for each day of the week (he could only tolerate the 8 month stage). Now he is completely on our food, thank god! ;)



I don't think it is a bad choice. People have been doing it for decades. My children have done great on it, no concerns. I think it all depends on the child and what the parent is comfortable with.



I also spoon feed my son, not my daughter (if we let him do finger foods, he would gag). My son tells us when he is full. He turns his head or swats at the spoon. Although, we also give him his own spoon and little food to practice on his own.



http://baby.about.com/od/feeding/f/infan...

Sherri - posted on 02/12/2012

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I am one that only starts my kids on cereal as a first food. I then even add it to all of their fruits and veggies as well because the purees are too runny. It adds thickness to their purees so it doesn't make a mess and actually makes it to their mouths so they can actually eat it. We also no history of any allergies.



I have already stated why I started my kids on solids rather than just stick to only formula for them.

Sherri - posted on 02/12/2012

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Depends why they are feeding them the cereal at 4mo's Sylvia. As they really don't need the nutrition from the cereal anyways as they are getting that from nursing or formula, so who cares if they start with cereal or something else.

Sylvia - posted on 02/12/2012

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Emma, yes, I've seen that too. I've also seen parents spend half an hour patiently spooning nutrition-free rice cereal into a 4-month-old baby whose tongue just keeps pushing it out again. How exactly is this benefiting anyone?



Heather, jarred food was a giant fail with my DD as well :P

Lady Heather - posted on 02/12/2012

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I don't know if it really makes a huge difference. The couple of times I spoon fed I found it was pretty obvious when the kid didn't want more. But I understand the theory and perhaps if the patent is the clean your plate type, overfeeding could occur. Regardless, I prefer a baby led weaning style for its convenience. My older daughter was almost entirely self feeding and ate what we ate (with the exception of the super spicy dishes - hers were toned down a bit). She wouldn't eat jarred food. We tried once on holiday because some of our family members were nervous about the table food. Giant fail.

Stifler's - posted on 02/11/2012

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Some parents DO (and I have seen it ) keep feeding their kid the bottle until it's all gone or feeding them with the spoon until it's all gone while they are showing obvious signs of being full/not wanting any more.

Sylvia - posted on 02/11/2012

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It makes sense. I've never understood why some people insist on spoon-feeding babies who are obviously not equipped to eat solids yet (they keep pushing the food back out with their tongue) and then keep spoon-feeding them until they're past two.



However, my DD was never spoon-fed -- she ABSOLUTELY REFUSED to eat anything that she couldn't grab and stuff into her mouth herself -- yet she's the world's pickiest eater. (The part about not being overweight is right on, though -- she's 9 and weighs like 50 lb :P)

Tracey - posted on 02/11/2012

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Not suggesting anyone is wrong, back when my kids were babies there seemed to be new reports "proving" weaning too early / too late, home made food / tinned food, this food or that food would be bad for your child's development / health in later life.

Tracey - posted on 02/11/2012

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My kids were like Sherri's, we were advised to give baby rice at 4 months as they couldn't get enough from milk.



I'm sure there will be another study next week that says giving your babies too many carbs is bad for them, whatever and however you feed your child there is a study saying you are wrong.

Stifler's - posted on 02/10/2012

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I don't cook up special baby food either my whole family eats steamed veggies I just mash the extra portions and divide into containers to put in the freezer after dinner is over. I was going to do self led weaning but I just do a combination of spoon feeding yoghurt and letting her try the spoon herself at the end and giving her toast and other cut up veggies and soft meat. Kids just refuse to eat anymore if they're full, well mine do anyway they turn their heads and don't eat any more. I did finger food by 8 months with Logan aswell they are both good at eating either way.

Valerie - posted on 02/10/2012

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People are being way too sensitive about this. the article isn't saying you have to do this...just showing the benefits of trying it. obviously it won't work for everyone. we did this with our second and loved it. waited till she could sit up on her own and then gave her finger foods. she didn't have the texture issues her older sister did and her fine motor skills developed nicely. we're planning on trying it with our son too. he's two months now.

Celeste - posted on 02/10/2012

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I don't know that it's biased but it does seem like a small study. They're not saying that if you spoon feed, that your kid is going to be overweight. If you do the math, 8 out of 63 is 7%, so that doesn't seem alarming.. My daughter that was spoon fed isn't overweight either, in fact, she's small for her age.

[deleted account]

I have two VERY different experiences w/ starting my kids on solids (almost completely opposite in fact). Yet all three of my kids eat pretty much the same things and the same way and are all w/in the 25th-50th percentiles for weight and height.... Well, ONE of them is up to the 50th percent in weight and that's been just recently. Darn kids won't quit growing. ;)

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 02/10/2012

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My thought is this study is biased. I spoon fed my older daughter at 5 moths then started her on finger foods by 9 months. My older daughter is now 7 years old is 51 inches tall and weighs 52lbs.



My peditrician and the child care books I've read all say to stop feeding your baby when they give a signal that they're full. Most baby books also state that BETWEEN 4-6 months of age is the best time to start solids because that's when their digestive tract is mature. so starting at 4 months doesn't make someone a bad parent for not waiting until 6 months.



Again, the obesity thing is more of a genetics and what you're feeding your child. Not just how you're feeding your child.

[deleted account]

I read the link and the study and I'm finding it very difficult to get a clear picture of what they mean by "baby-led" vs. spooned. Like Sherri, I started all of my kids on solids at 4 months. A 4 month old can't use a spoon and certainly can't hand-fed themselves starter foods like pureed peaches. However, the babies have been doing a mix of spoon and baby led feeding since about 6 months. So does that make them baby-led or spoon-fed? It's not really clear based on the study description. I also tend to agree with Julianne about the rice cereal -- it really has no nutritional value and there are lots of other choices to get kids used to solids that aren't pure refined carbs. Frankly, I don't see the benefit in withholding solids until the baby is capable of feeding itself.

Jenn - posted on 02/10/2012

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This isn't saying to never give a baby a spoon. Letting babies have a spoon is part of learning to eat as well. Practicing eye hand cordination is very important, of course. The study is suggesting parents shouldn't spoon feed the children as much as they often do. Fortunately, my children continued to nurse so I knew that was their main source of nutrition. Like everything, a parent still has to decide what is best for their child and their needs.

Sherri - posted on 02/10/2012

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The recommendations are between 4-6mo's. Ya I don't do baby led solids and my kids needed solids before 6mo's of age. I have already stated the reasons why in other threads on this.



But my first was put on solids by a nutritionist and his pediatrician at 12wks because he was intaking almost double the amt of formula he should and needed to cut back on the calories and the solids helped him only intake what he should be.



My second screamed non stop at 4mo's because he just wasn't getting enough with the formula any longer and needed the solids to help fill his belly. The minute we started solids he was golden.



Not every child fits into the mold of waiting till 6mo's a lot can and a lot of kids can't. You have to go by your childs needs.

Sherri - posted on 02/10/2012

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Could be the case but don't care will be spoon feeding my kids. My kids aren't obese because they are taught what constitutes a healthy diet and that is how we tend to eat anyways.



I also start letting them feed themselves at 10-11mo's but before then I do it for them so much less of a mess, not to mention a 4mo old can't feed themselves. My kids do purees for about 3mo's or so then transfer slowly to what we eat.

Celeste - posted on 02/10/2012

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Interesting study!

My first daughter (now 9) I did the spoon feeding purees. So, with my boys I thought you HAD to spoon feed them baby food. They hated it, so I skipped the purees. I didn't realize that it had a name until later!



So, even though we skipped the spoon with the boys, they did fine transitioning from using their hands to using a fork and a spoon.

[deleted account]

I dont agree with skipping the spoon, although I do agree babies eat better when they feed themselves. I make my own baby food and I would give gabby her spoon to eat, I would let her attempt to feed herself while giving her bites myself. Before she was a year old, she was 100% sufficient with her utensils and able to feed herself. Spoons and forks are necessary when you get older anyways, I feel its best to work on this hand-eye coordination early so they can feed themselves. I could only imagine the frustration a child would go through when they were taught their whole life to eat with their hands, then need to start using utensils.I think this study may have more to do with the fact spoon fed babies are more likely to eat rice cereal as a first food. Which is a high carb, empty caloric meal. I its not the spoon itself, but what the parent chooses to put on it.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/10/2012

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My boy is spoon fed, he has/had a terrible gag reflex. he couldn't do the whole finger food thing. He is not over weight, he is at the 50 percentile for that, 15.5months and 24lbs, can't remember his height off hand but somewhere around 30/32". He has never had anything sweeter than yogurt, we are healthy eaters and only eat homemade foods (junk food on rare occasion but not for him). He now does get to explore his food but not until we feel he has had enough to eat first. We had him to a feeding specialist and it was recommended by them that the parent is in control until the child seems to be adequately full, then they can explore what is left... It works exceptionally well for us. My daughter on the other hand was given finger foods from the get go and she did great too, 13yrs old now and slim... I think it all depends on the kid.

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