Baby food pouches and Baby-Led Weaning: Associations with energy intake, eating behaviour and infant weight status

Appetite. 2024 Jan 1:192:107121. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2023.107121. Epub 2023 Nov 14.


Although concern is frequently expressed regarding the potential impact of baby food pouch use and Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) on infant health, research is scarce. Data on pouch use, BLW, energy intake, eating behaviour and body mass index (BMI) were obtained for 625 infants aged 7-10 months in the First Foods New Zealand study. Frequent pouch use was defined as ≥5 times/week during the past month. Traditional spoon-feeding (TSF), "partial" BLW and "full" BLW referred to the relative proportions of spoon-feeding versus infant self-feeding, assessed at 6 months (retrospectively) and current age. Daily energy intake was determined using two 24-h dietary recalls, and caregivers reported on a variety of eating behaviours. Researchers measured infant length and weight, and BMI z-scores were calculated (World Health Organization Child Growth Standards). In total, 28% of infants consumed food from pouches frequently. Frequent pouch use was not significantly related to BMI z-score (mean difference, 0.09; 95% CI -0.09, 0.27) or energy intake (92 kJ/day; -19, 202), but was associated with greater food responsiveness (standardised mean difference, 0.3; 95% CI 0.1, 0.4), food fussiness (0.3; 0.1, 0.4) and selective/restrictive eating (0.3; 0.2, 0.5). Compared to TSF, full BLW was associated with greater daily energy intake (BLW at 6 months: mean difference 150 kJ/day; 95% CI 4, 297; BLW at current age: 180 kJ/day; 62, 299) and with a range of eating behaviours, including greater satiety responsiveness, but not BMI z-score (6 months: 0.06 (-0.18, 0.30); current age: 0.06 (-0.13, 0.26)). In conclusion, neither feeding approach was associated with weight in infants, despite BLW being associated with greater energy intake compared with TSF. However, infants who consumed pouches frequently displayed higher food fussiness and more selective eating.

Keywords: BMI; Baby food pouches; Baby-Led Weaning; Complementary feeding; Eating behavior; Energy intake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior
  • Infant Food
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Weaning