Researchers discover whether baby-led weaning increases the risk of choking
Allowing babies to feed themselves solid foods rather than spoon-feeding them does not increase the risk of choking, research has found.
A study by a British university found no difference in how often babies choked when they fed themselves from as young as six months old.
More than 1,000 mothers with a baby aged between four and 12 months took part in the research by Swansea University.
They reported how they gave their baby solid foods, what foods they gave them and whether their baby had ever choked.
Overall, there was no difference in how often a baby choked among babies who fed themselves and were mainly spoon-fed.
Dr Amy Brown, associate professor in child health at Swansea University, said: "Following a baby-led weaning approach where you allow your baby to simply self-feed family foods, rather than preparing special pureed or mashed foods to spoon-feed, has been growing in popularity over the last 10 years in the UK and other countries.
"However, some people have expressed concerns over whether this is safe.
"This study adds to previous research conducted in smaller sample groups that also showed this approach does not increase the risk of a baby choking, and indeed in the UK, supports the Department of Health recommendation that babies can have finger foods from six months old."
In 2002, it was recommended that babies were not given solid foods until the age of six months.
The recommendation followed research that showed waiting could reduce the risk of certain illnesses, such as gastroenteritis.
Babies are also not developmentally ready to sit up and swallow food until around the age of six months.
Milk should form the major part of a baby's diet, with just 250 calories per day needed from food until they are nine months old.
The research suggests that baby-led weaning does not pose a choking risk, as long as foods known to be a risk are avoided.