Healthcare professionals’ and mothers’ knowledge of, attitudes to and experiences with, Baby-Led Weaning: a content analysis study
- 1Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
- 2Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
- Correspondence to Dr Anne-Louise Mary Heath;
- Received 23 May 2012
- Accepted 4 October 2012
- Published 26 November 2012
Objective Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) is an alternative approach for introducing complementary foods to infants that emphasises infant self-feeding rather than adult spoon-feeding. Here we examined healthcare professionals’ and mothers’ knowledge of, attitudes to and experiences with, BLW.
Design, setting and participants Healthcare professionals (n=31) and mothers who had used BLW (n=20) completed a semistructured interview using one of two tailored interview schedules examining their knowledge of, attitudes to and experiences with, BLW. Interview notes and transcripts were analysed using content analysis to identify subcategories and extract illustrative quotes.
Results Healthcare professionals had limited direct experience with BLW and the main concerns raised were the potential for increased risk of choking, iron deficiency and inadequate energy intake. Although they suggested a number of potential benefits of BLW (greater opportunity for shared family meal times, fewer mealtime battles, healthier eating behaviours, greater convenience and possible developmental advantages) most felt reluctant to recommend BLW because of their concern about the potential increased risk of choking. In contrast, mothers who had used this style of feeding reported no major concerns with BLW. They considered BLW to be a healthier, more convenient and less stressful way to introduce complementary foods to their infant and recommended this feeding approach to other mothers. Although mothers did not report being concerned about choking, 30% reported at least one choking episode—most commonly with raw apple.
Conclusions Given the lack of research on BLW, further work is needed to determine whether the concerns expressed by healthcare professionals and potential benefits outlined by mothers are valid. The current study suggests that there is a mismatch between healthcare professionals' and mothers’ knowledge of, attitudes to and experiences, with BLW.
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