An alternative to traditional weaning methods known as baby-led weaning (BLW) appears to be emerging in the UK. This approach advocates bypassing typical weaning practices of spoon-feeding puréed foods or baby rice, encouraging instead the introduction of foods in their whole form to the infant from 6 months old. A key tenet of BLW is self-feeding. Anecdotally, the practice of BLW appears to be gaining in popularity. However, research evidence is scant, and little is known about the nature of BLW and the demography of those who utilize it. This study aimed to characterize a sample of women who have chosen to adopt the BLW method and to describe associated attitudes and behaviours. Six hundred and fifty five mothers with a child between 6 months and 12 months of age provided information about timing of weaning onset, use of spoon-feeding and purées, and experiences of weaning and meal times. Those participants who used a BLW method reported little use of spoon-feeding and purées and were more likely to have a higher education, higher occupation, be married and have breastfed their infant. BLW was associated with a later introduction of complementary foods, greater participation in meal times and exposure to family foods. Levels of anxiety about weaning and feeding were lower in mothers who adopted a BLW approach. These findings provide an insight into BLW practices and the characteristics of a small population of users.
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.