Major unresolved issues in BLW (and requirements for further research):
• To assess safety, benefits and potential implications of a baby-led approach in terms of nutrient intakes and baby growth and the risk of choking.
• To provide a more standardized definition of BLW, to better compare this approach with a traditional spoon-feeding one.
• To perform an accurate quantification of energy and nutrient intakes, by researchers and family doctors themselves, to avoid the potential bias of self-reporting.
• To investigate biomarkers, such as biochemical iron, vitamins or oligo-elements, to better assess if the nutritional status of the infants is adequate.
• To explore the short-term and long-term impact of BLW on healthy-related outcomes, such as the correct development but also the risks for under- or over-weight, obesity in larger, randomized trials
• To investigate whether BLW approach increases or not the risk of food allergic sensitizations and reactions.
Practical advices for parents willing to follow BLW approach:
• To wait until the baby is ready: healthy infants over 6 months of age are developmentally able to self-feed; however, strong chewing skills in some children may not be fully developed until 9 months.
• To inform and discuss with the family paediatrician about the approach considering both risks and possible advantages
• To monitor with the paediatrician the growth parameters, especially during the first months of weaning and evaluating if supplementations are necessary (i.e. iron, vitamins, oligo-elements ..).
• The foods offered should be prepared to be picked up and easily held.
• Parents should be advised to avoid added salt and sugar
• Meals should be cooked from scratch, without any processed foods. Cooking should be appropriate, i.e., cooking until soft
• To include high-iron food, like small pieces of red meat.
• To choice a variety of foods, that should gradually be introduced in a broader variety of textures, colours and shapes.
• To avoid hard foods, especially small and roundly shaped like nuts and grapes due to the risk of choking.
• To pay attention to the infant’s hunger and satiety cues and respond promptly.
• To ensure that the child should never be left alone with foods.