Baby-led Weaning: What a Systematic Review of the Literature Adds On

Ital J Pediatr. 2018 May 3;44(1):49. doi: 10.1186/s13052-018-0487-8.

Abstract

The term weaning describes the time period in which a progressive reduction of breastfeeding or the feeding of infant-formula takes place while the infant is gradually introduced to solid foods. It is a crucial time in an infant's life as not only does it involve with a great deal of rapid change for the child, but it is also associated with the development of food preferences, eating behaviours and body weight in childhood and also in adolescence and adulthood.Therefore, how a child is weaned may have an influence later, on the individual's entire life. Babies are traditionally first introduced to solid foods using spoon-feeding, in most countries.Beside to traditional approach, an alternative method, promoting infant self-feeding from six months of age, called baby-led weaning or "auto-weaning", has grown in popularity. This approach causes concern to healthy professionals and parents themselves as data from observational studies pointed out to a potential risk of iron and energy inadequacy as well as choking risk. Aim of this systematic review was to critically examine the current evidence about baby-led weaning approach and to explore the need for future research.A systematic search was conducted in Cochrane library databases and DARE (Database of Abstract of Reviews of Effects), EMBASE and MEDLINE in the period 2000-2018 (up to March 1st) to address some key questions on baby-led weaning. Prisma guidelines for systematic reviews has been followed.After the inclusion/exclusion process, we included for analysis of evidence 12 articles, 10 observational cross-sectional studies and 2 randomized controlled trials. Pooling of results from very different outcomes in the studies included was not possible. Both randomized trials have potential bias; therefore, the quality of the evidence is low.There are still major unresolved issues about baby-led weaning that require answers from research and that should be considered when advices are requested from health professionals by parents willing to approach this method.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Age Factors
  • Breast Feeding / methods*
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food / statistics & numerical data*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Weaning