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Pureed food for babies harmful?

18th June 2007

A childcare expert has said that feeding babies pureed food is unnecessary and could cause health problems.

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Gill Rapley, deputy director of Unicef's UK Baby Friendly Initiative, warned that babies who were given pureed food could not control how much they ate, which could cause constipation. She said this could lead to a child becoming a picky eater later on. She also warned that pureed food could delay the development of chewing skills.

Mrs Rapley has worked for 25 years as a health visitor. Undertaking research on infant feeding habits enabled her to devise a feeding programme, called Baby-Led Weaning.

The programme says that for the first six months babies should consume milk only and then were capable of eating, and should be given, solid foods.

She said that research published by the World Health Organisation in 2002 showed breast or formula milk gave babies "all the nutrition" they needed until the age of six months.

"That research said feeding a baby any other food during the first six months would dilute the nutritional value of the milk and might even be harmful to the baby's health."

Professor David Candy, a paediatric gastroenterologist with the Royal West Sussex NHS Trust, said the programme could have benefits but cautioned that some babies would develop chewing skills at a later age.

He said: "Some babies could manage this, but others may not have the oromotor skills necessary to chew the food - they would just push it out of their mouths."



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