All content of this blog is my own opinion only. It does not represent the views of any organisation or association I may work for, or be associated with. Nothing within this blog should be considered as medical advice and you should always consult your Doctor.

Does It Matter The Baby Show Linked To Arms Trade?

Following my blog entry here about The Baby Show organisers Clarion also arranging Weapons Fairs, some mums have asked - what is the issue?  The arms fairs are all legal and above board right?  Nobody is claiming Clarion is doing anything illegal so does it really matter?

Firstly legal is not the same thing as ethical.

If it is indeed acceptable for babies and bullets to mix, why can't we have the information out there in the open?  If there's absolutely no problem, why do The Baby Show delete any questions or comments on this topic as soon as they are posted on their Facebook wall?

Why are they deleting anything that doesn't reflect Baby Show in a glowing light? (including recent comments over chosen "experts").

Censoring questions/feedback from the general public is I think a risky PR technique - sure you might put the flame out, or you might incite people to feel more passionately than they did, because you censored them...

Clarion do however have an official statement:
"Why Clarion Events supports the defence and security industry
Clarion Events is the largest independent events organiser in the UK and a highly successful, award winning company.
In 2008, Clarion Events acquired a presence in the defence and security sector, including the world’s largest defence and security exhibition, Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi).
Over the past year, a small minority have tried to convince others that DSEi helps to perpetuate the illegal arms trade. This is not true."
Please let me clarify at this point that I am not commenting here on whether DSEi helps to perpetuate the illegal arms trade, truthfully - I have no clue.

But what I do know is "defence & security sector" might sound like a "safe" title, one that brings to mind some nice men in suits sell appropriate weapons to other nice men in suits to defend and secure their countries.  Yet just a few days ago (8th Feb 2011) a Guardian headline read:
"UK sells arms to repressive regimes- official"
followed by:
"MPs question British arms supplies to Middle East and North Africa
Minister admits trade with undemocratic countries with poor human rights record"
and goes on to say:
"How can Britain, one of the world's leading arms exporters, honour its stated commitment to promote human rights throughout the world?
With difficulty.
Vince Cable, the business secretary, has admitted as much. "We do trade with governments that are not democratic and have bad human rights records", he told a crossparty group of senior MPs. "We do business with repressive governments and there's no denying that".
The MPs were questioning Cable and William Hague, the foreign secretary, about Whitehall's approval of exports, including crowd control ammunition, guns and ammunition to Libya, Bahrain, and Egypt, in the period leading up to the Arab Spring last year"
A few days later on 14th Feb another Guardian headline read:
Bahrain receives military equipment from UK despite violent crackdown
Which continues:
"Britain has continued to sell arms to Bahrain despite continuing political unrest in the Gulf state, new official figures disclose.
According to the figures the government approved the sale of military equipment valued at more than £1m in the months following the violent crackdown on demonstrators a year ago. They included licences for gun silencers, weapons sights, rifles, artillery and components for military training aircraft.
Also cleared for export to Bahrain between July and September last year were naval guns and components for detecting and jamming improvised explosive devices. No export licences were refused. "
Innocent Libyan Casualty
Last April the question was "Who armed Gaddafi" whoops yep the UK were involved with that too.  Although the Daily Mail's headline of The 'dirty secret' of British arms sales to Libya just months before Gaddafi slaughtered pro-democracy protesters was perhaps the catchiest....

Ultimately it is of course the UK Government, not Clarion who issue licenses - however Clarion does provide a key event in the "get your guns" calendar and for some that's simply not OK.  By running the arms fairs, they are involved - they profit from both the sale of baby items and the sale of weapons.  Is it really that crazy to expect parents shouldn't have to wade through politics before attending a baby related event?

Others agree.

Back in 2008 Baby Show faced a backlash against their involvement in the arms trade, and must have pulled some pretty impressive PR out of the bag.  The question is with the current popularity of social media - will they manage to sweep this under the carpet forever?

The Baby Show Involved With The Arms Trade?

Have I been living in a cave?

For the first time in a long time today, I spent what seemed like an eternity doing my goldfish impression.

Then I Googled.

Then I did some more "goldfishing."

Then I wondered how on earth I had managed to not hear about this before, because it seems to many its old news.

I'm blogging in case any fellow cave dwellers had managed to miss this too - I can't quite believe as many people would promote the event as do if this was common knowledge?

The conversation started today when a mum on Facebook commented about the quality of "experts" speaking at The Baby Show; there was particular concern that the advice given wasn't always evidence based:

One mum replied:
"The trouble is, I highly doubt anyone IBCLC level would touch The Baby Show with a barge pole, with it being a Clarion event. I have been having this continual internal monologue about if it would be better for an ethical company or speaker to turn a blind eye to the arms trade links and reach out to the masses in the 'mainstream', or if actually I respect the companies/individuals more for sticking to their ethical and moral stances."
Huh?  Back up the truck!  Arms trade links?

A quick Google found this page by the "Space Hijackers", which reads:
"Clarion Events, recent owners of the DSEi bi-annual arms fair in the Docklands have obviously lost track of their common sense and moral compasses. In a move which can only be described as totally bizarre, the events company decided that their other shows such as "The Baby Show" and "The Spirit Of Christmas" would be beautifully complimented with a few Arms Fairs. 
Their recent links to the arms trade have seen Baby Show sponsors Bounty jump ship and charity Unicef refuse to accept the door money donations they had been promised."
So the Space Hackers made some leaflets and gave them out at a previous Baby Show....

Who are Clarion Events?

According to (Campaign Against Arms Trade)
"In 2007 DSEi's former owners Reed Elsevier finally announced it would sell DSEi after a successful public campaign forced it to admit that "defence shows are no longer compatible" with its position. But despite the continuing public condemnation, a buyer finally came forward in the shape of Clarion Events, who bought DSEi and two other arms fairs in May 2008.
Clarion Events was new to the arms business, with its exhibition portfolio focusing on consumer and business - to - business trade shows, including The Baby Show, The Travel Show and The Spirit of Christmas. Clarion seems to have developed an appetite for arms fairs - it has bought six more in the space of four years. In a clear statement of intent, Clarion has even become a member of the Aerospace, Defence and Security group - the industry body for the arms trade- and set up a special company called Clarion Defence and Security to manage their collection of arms fairs."
You can read more here.


I wonder if speakers at the show such as Alison Scott Wright, Clare Byam-Cook, Jo Tantum and Annabel Karmel are aware of this?

Numerous blogs and parenting pages give out free tickets to the event, do they know?

Lists of exhibitors adorn their web page, do they know?

When I wrote a guest blog piece for them last year, I certainly didn't!  Interestingly it has already been removed from their blog - I guess only naff advice gets to stick around....

Perhaps I'm naive in feeling people wouldn't find babies and bullets to be an appropriate combination - but surely ethics aren't completely dead?

If you have more information regarding the above, ie something to show the pages linked to aren't correct - please get in touch!

EDITED TO ADD: MamaPack have been discussing this here

RELATED POST: Does It Matter The Baby Show Is Linked To Arms Fairs?

Not Breastfeeding Leads To An Angrier, More Irritable Child

Or so a new study hitting the press this week tells us.

Well no to be fair they actually said "If you breastfeed, your child will be less irritable and angry", but we know how important it is to hold same species milk as the basis for comparison, don't we!

Now this may confuse some of you, as only last month the headline that made the news was:
"Non Breastfed Babies Are Happier"
 So how can both be true?

The study last month was a small study (316 infants, further divided into breastfed, mixed fed, formula fed) and it explored the temperament of 3 month old infants.

This study sample consisted of:
"1,917 participants born full term with birthweights 6 2,500 g and whose hostility was measured in 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2007. Altogether 5,501 participant observations were available from the 4 study waves."
So basically they have a significantly bigger study sample and they studied over a much longer period - ie rather than just a snapshot at 3 months, this study examined temperament in adulthood, at an average of  21.5, 26.7, 30.8 and 36.9 years of age.
"Instead of asking parents to rate their child's mood they used the following methods:
Cynicism’ was measured with a scale derived from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, ‘paranoia’ with a subscale of the Symptom Checklist-90R, and ‘anger’ with the irritability scale of the Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory. A total hostility score was calculated as a mean of the cynicism, paranoia and anger subscales."
What were the results?
Longer duration of breastfeeding was related to less hostile maternal child-rearing practices, lower family income, higher number of children in the family and later birth order of the child.
Of these family characteristics, hostile child-rearing and low family income correlated with higher offspring hostility in adulthood.
Those who had not been breastfed as infants had higher levels of hostility, especially cynicism and paranoia, in adulthood than their 4- to 6-month-breastfed peers. This population-based study showed that breastfeeding may have long-term effects on offspring hostility. Those who were not breastfed in infancy had higher levels of adult hostility than those who were breastfed.
The association was U-shaped showing that psychological benefits of breastfeeding may already be acquired during the first 6 months, thus even short breastfeeding should be encouraged in maternity clinics.  
Study Flaws & Conclusion?
"First, self-reports of breastfeeding might inflict bias due to recall or social desirability problems. Second, the most disadvantaged participants had dropped out from the study. Future studies should examine potential mechanisms explaining the association between breastfeeding and personality outcomes."

When is PND NOT PND? Part One

According to NHS direct:
"Postnatal depression (PND) is a type of depression some women experience after they have had a baby. It usually develops in the first four to six weeks after childbirth, although in some cases it may not develop for several months. There is often no reason for the depression.
There are many symptoms of PND, such as low mood, feeling unable to cope and difficulty sleeping, but many women are not aware that they have the condition. It is important for partners, family, friends and healthcare professionals to recognise the signs of PND as early as possible so that appropriate treatment can be given.
It is very important to understand that having PND does not mean you do not love or care for your baby."
And this is absolutely true - for women with PND it's important they get effective support as soon as possible; for those supporting mums to be aware of signs and help mum obtain the help they need.

But, I also wonder how often PND is MISdiagnosed.

Via Milk Matters I see lots of mums who have been struggling for various amounts of time with different problems, but what I've noticed is a large percentage are either diagnosed with PND, or it has been suggested to them they may be suffering from it.

It confuses me.

If someone is living in a really difficult situation - perhaps their baby cries excessively, or pulls off the breast mid feed to writhe and cry; mixed in with painful feeding plus perhaps discomfort between feeds. Throw in a baby who will never be put down and so parents are sleeping in shifts whilst the other holds baby on their chest, which after weeks creates extreme tiredness.  Add to the mix that the mum has often seen numerous health professionals and had either a) conflicting information b) numerous attempts at help none of which have worked c) mum feels like she is banging her head against a brick wall.

Do we expect her to be doing an Irish jig of happiness?

A mum last week springs to mind.  After weeks of feeding problems, pain and a constantly unsettled (ie screaming for long spells) baby, she had gone back to the doctor again about the ongoing agonising pains in her breasts.  She had already taken multiple courses of antibiotics, and so the pain was now assumed to be thrush and had been medicated accordingly.  As it still hadn't improved she had gone back to the doctor, by now pretty desperate, describing the pain as "unbearable"and the doctor recommended more antibiotics.

"How will that help?" She had asked confused, "baby becomes more unsettled each time I take a course - and it hasn't stop the pain before."

The Doctor advised the mum that if she did not like how he was treating her she was welcome to complain to the practice manager.

The mum, promptly burst into tears.

Do you think you may be depressed?  the Doctor had asked....

I don't feel depressed the mum told me - in pain, frustrated at the conflicting advice which never resolved the pain and utterly BEEPED off, yes!

Her story is not an isolated case.  Many mums who have spent weeks or months struggling, experiencing ongoing pain which can impact on how mum feels about baby (who may always want to feed as soon as he goes to mum, which for her equals pain) seriously broken sleep - not just with a frequently waking baby, but a frequently waking baby who cries for hours when he does wake are in a fragile emotional/mental state, but is that depression?

In many cases when the pain stops and the baby settles - mum describes it as "life changing".  When the situation that is so tough improves, so does mum.  Of course some women suffer true PND, but I also wonder if it isn't at other times a rather large sticking plaster for incompetent care.

How society judges our children...

My two are as opposite as chalk and cheese.

My eldest is dark haired, dark eyed,very tall and "forward" for her age; spirited, feisty, takes no crap kinda kid, kind, empathic and friendly.  Knows her mind and sticks to it - explain why something isn't OK and you're likely to get co-operation; bark instructions and you get a look of "And what are you going to do if I don't?".  At two she looked and sounded like an average four year old, I was often asked which school she went to.  Other children typically also think she's older and she's a make a friend everywhere you go type.

In contrast my son has blonde curls which were even whiter when younger, bright blue eyes, is angelic looking and small for his age (though not so much these days!), quite chilled out although can absolutely demonstrate his emotions with the best of them - does this in a different way to his sister.  Rather than voicing his objections loudly and with passion, he goes for ignoring something he doesn't fancy doing - or tries to appeal with smiles and winning you over rather than the head to head combat style of my daughter.  If someone becomes vaguely firm he will generally comply, if he still objects you know it's really important to him.

They're different socially too -  whereas my oldest always looks like she's having so much fun it seems to encourage children to gravitate to her, my youngest goes for sweet smiles and looking cute until someone befriends him.

My eldest voices her ideas about what and how they should play - my youngest is happy to join in with whatever someone else sets up.

I've discovered - society isn't anywhere near as keen on dark haired, older looking/sounding feisty girls as they are angelic looking cute boys, and sometimes I think it's really unfair.

As my eldest grew out of tiny babyhood, strangers would rarely speak to us in the supermarket - pretty normal I think.  But I would get comments like "You've got your hands full" as she vocally expressed her reluctance to sit and ride in the trolley, or the tutting and shaking of head as she dived under the clothes racks in M&S before shouting "NO!" when I asked her to come out.

I knew everyone assumed her much older than she was - but the problem was whilst her height and language skills were ahead,  her emotional development wasn't always up there, particularly if she was tired or unwell, or had had a long day.

When my son was smaller people would constantly approach us when out and about - just to say "Oh my he's gorgeous, he's like a cherub!!", "Aren't you just beautiful"; literally every time we went anywhere.  It really hit me how shallow many people are..

I have actually had people say "It's so unfair that as a boy he has that gorgeous curly blonde hair, I bet his sister would kill for that, wouldn't she?" - with both of them stood right there.  Um well actually no at 6 she hadn't yet twigged how important these things apparently are...

My son quickly learnt that lowering his eyes and looking up whilst fluttering his lashes got him even more of an "Awwwwwwwwwww".  When he got frustrated he would dissolve into really sad sounding tears - which grabbed the sympathy vote all round every time. Displaying the same emotion in a different manner - yet it was so interesting to see how society preferred "distress" to what was perceived as "disobedience".

People would look sympathetically and say "poor poppet", or try and engage him to soothe him themselves; looking to me as if I must have done something heinous for him to be upset!  I would find myself explaining, he's fine really, just a little upset he can't pull all the glass jars off aisle 5 and chew the handle of the shopping trolley....

He could cause chaos in the middle of a play centre, yet would never ever be blamed even when at fault - he would simply flash them a look as if to say I never would, and whatever had happened assumed a misunderstanding.

People often suggested I was "too soft" on my eldest, yet should be softer with my second - despite the fact my parenting style was far more "mainstream" when my first was a toddler, and most consider the more empathic style I now try and use as "softer".  When I got fed up of the "angelic" comments and pointed out he could have his moments like all children - people would say "never!", "I don't believe it!".

When my son crawled/walked/talked (v cute baby voice) - strangers showered him with compliments as to "how clever" he was (and of course how sweet and cute)- in actual fact his development was completely in line with typically normal in most areas; did have a thing for numbers but they didn't base their judgement on something he was ahead with, it was the bog standard normal developmental steps from this cute dinky looking kid

In contrast my daughter did do everything at the earlier end of typical and her language/sentence structure, verbal reasoning etc was advanced, including pronunciation - no cute baby voice.  However as everyone assumed her older, milestones were perceived as "age appropriate" and nobody commented - they simply judged her when her emotional response was that of her age (and still do) as an older child acting unreasonably.

Even teachers and carers in the past forget her age - leading them to expect so much more of her than her peers/brother at the same age.

Society was so judgemental of my daughter I had her custom shirts made "I am 2/3/4" as applicable. At a play place one day my daughter, sporting her "I am 4" shirt went into a 5's and under play area.  I saw two mothers move protectively towards their toddlers and asked her why she wasn't in the older area, this was for under 5's.  My daughter looked confused and pointing at her shirt said: "my shirt says I am 4".

"Yes" replied the mother, "but that's surely an old shirt?  You're not 4 now..".(It fitted!)
"Yes I am", she said (becoming more confused by the minute) "I was 4 two weeks ago and before that I was 3!".

The mothers raised their eyebrows and went back to discussing between themselves how she was clearly older.

My son at 5 now goes into these zones and mothers tell their children to "move over and let the bigger boy in".

Society expects boys to be more challenging, energetic, "cheeky monkeys", "little devils" and so on (as the racks of t shirts often show) loud, confident - these traits really aren't appreciated in young girls.  Sweet, cute, "easy" wins the day every time.

Yet what do we really want for our children as adults?  At what point does society deem it OK for women to become feisty?  Ever?  Do we really want our children to become compliant without question?  To always do as requested without challenge?  Do we hope that they will regain their "feistiness" at a later date, when we no longer are responsible?

Whilst I of course want my daughter to be an effective communicator, listen to the opinions and ideas of others and handle her frustrations productively - I also want her to challenge things when older, question, have her own opinions.  If she did everything I ask without question, what happens when I'm not the one "in command" any more?  When peers or boyfriends become more influential than mum, would she also follow them without question?  Would she be used to her opinion not counting?

Surely society needs a mix of characters to hope to function well?  Characteristics considered undesirable in young children can be valued in adulthood.

Next time you judge that child melting down on the floor - remember they may be much younger than you think, they may have a new sibling or something else that has rocked their world.  They could have autism or ADHD or something you can't see.  As the adage goes, you can't judge a book by its cover....

Breastfeeding - Does Science Mislead Parents & Professionals?

"Breastfeeding tied to stronger lungs, less asthma"
Was a headline that caught my eye this week.
"New studies show that breastfeeding strengthens babies' lungs and could reduce risk of developing asthma later in life."
It continued.

Naturally after a scan I reposted on my Facebook wall - but at the same time I flipped the language the correct way up:
"New studies show not breastfeeding tied to weaker lungs & more asthma"
One reply in particular caught my attention. A mum saying that she couldn't find anything that actually said not breastfeeding was tied to weaker lungs and more asthma, what the article said is that breastfeeding is tied to stronger lungs and less asthma, just because a study finds something it does not mean that the opposite is true.


The study in question found:
FEF50 was higher by 130 and 164 ml in children breastfed for 4-6 and >6 months respectively "
FEF50 is the Forced Expiratory Flow at 50% - ie the flow rate at the halfway point of the total volume exhaled. The larger this number is the better.

This means if you split the babies into 3 groups, and give them easy hypothetical values eg - those not breastfed (Group A) have a FEF50 value of 1, those breastfed for 4+ months  (Group B) score 2, and then those breastfed for more 6+ months (Group C) score 3  - we can report this in a number of ways.

We could say group A have a reduced FEF compared to group B & C, OR we could say group C have an increased FEF compared to group A & B.  Both statements are factually true and correct - it all depends which you choose to compare against.

What doesn't make sense is to say we agree group C has a higher score than group A, but then argue there is no evidence group A has a lower score than C.

It's like saying Bob is taller than Jim, but there's no evidence Jim is shorter than Bob!

We know human milk is the norm for human infants - therefore this has to be the basis for comparison surely? How do alternative substances compare to the real thing?

I often use the analogy of a manufactured blood substitute, because breastmilk is like blood in that it is a live bodily fluid.  If research showed people who had been given manufactured blood during a transfusion were at increased risk of say cancer, would we not want the blood thoroughly testing to ensure it wasn't the case? Would we be saying "real blood reduces risks of cancer"?

The other issue beyond giving a false belief that non breastfed children have a "normal risk" compared to those breastfed a magic elexir that "reduces" risks of disease, is that it can be misleading:
"A team led by Karen Silvers found that each month of exclusive breastfeeding (without any formula mixed in) was tied to a nine-percent drop in asthma risk."
One mum on Facebook asked, does this mean babies are born with a high asthma risk and each month of breastfeeding reduces that further?  I think it's a fair question given the language researchers chose to use.

Of course what they actually meant was each month of exclusive breastfeeding was tied to a nine-percent drop in asthma risk COMPARED TO THOSE THAT ARE NOT BREASTFED.

It's misleading.

Diane Wiessinger was I believe the first person to discuss watching our language back in 1996 (a must read if you haven't) - a piece which highlights perfectly how inflating the milk of own on species to "best", perpetuates the normalisation of infant formula.  Something I've previously blogged about here and here - and in no place is it more important than science.

A 2008 study examined exactly this:
"Do Journal Titles And Abstracts Accurtely Convey Findings On Differential Health Oucomes For Formula Fed Infants"
They wondered whether health professionals have access to unbiased information on the health implications of formula feeding.

They asked:
"Does the information conveyed to the casual reader of relevant scientific journals accurately convey their findings that formula-fed infants have worse health and development outcomes than the norm, that is, breastfed infants?
Or alternatively, is breastfeeding dammed with faint praise, and/or formula feeding treated like Harry Potter’s nemesis Voldemort – as ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’."
Method: The 2005 AAP Policy Statement on Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk cites 78 scientific studies as evidence that breastfeeding is protective against a range of infectious and chronic diseases. We systematically analysed the information content of titles and abstracts for these key studies on the health benefits of breastfeeding.

Their findings were interesting:
  • Only 4-6 percent refer to infant formula in the title, for example, ‘Differences in morbidity between breastfed and formula-fed infants’, ‘Cow’s milk exposure and type I diabetes mellitus’
  • 63-67 per cent had only a neutral statement in the title, or referred to the protection conferred by breastfeeding, reinforcing the cultural norm of breastfeeding as ideal rather than usual or ordinary
  • 29-36 per cent misleadingly associated breastfeeding with illness or disease, through statements implying guilt through association, such as ‘Breastfeeding and risk of post neonatal death in the United States’, “Breastfeeding and the sudden infant death syndrome’.
  • 16-22 per cent compare breastfeeding to artificial feeding with conclusions couched in terms of the ‘advantages’ of breastfeeding
  • 72-74 per cent make no mention of artificial infant formula, and would not challenge a reader’s erroneous belief or assumption that artificial feeding carries no increased health risks for infants
They conclude:
The AAP Policy Statement on breastfeeding and human milk stated that ‘exclusive breastfeeding is the reference or normative model against which all alternative feeding methods must be measured with regard to growth, health , development and all other short-and long term outcomes’.
This has implications for research design which are rarely considered. Most studies examined above hypothesized formula feeding as the norm and tested for differential outcomes from breastfeeding defined as the ‘exposure/intervention’. 
This approach can bias research through how the research hypothesis is specified, and through poor specification of infant feeding categories, with a tendency to underestimation of risk associated with non human milk feeding.
In recent years commentators have also highlighted the bias and negative effects on breastfeeding practices of normalizing artificial feeding, referring for example, to ‘the benefits of breastfeeding’ rather than, for example, ‘the risks of formula feeding’.
Nevertheless, surveys reveal considerable cultural ambivalence and ignorance about the health consequences of artificial infant feeding. For example, some 30 per cent of mothers surveyed by the United States’ ‘Babies Were Born To Be Breastfed!’ Campaign agreed with a statement that ‘infant formula is as good as breastmilk’, and only a minority of the survey population agreed that ‘a breastfed baby is less likely to get ear infections or respiratory illness’.
 Likewise, a clear majority of public opinion in the United States supports the view that ‘breastfeeding is healthier for babies’, yet substantially more than half of the surveyed population disagree that ‘feeding a baby formula instead of breastmilk increases the chances the baby will get sick’. 
If exclusive breastfeeding was the norm against which other methods are measured, breastfeeding would not be ‘protective’ and breastfed infants would not enjoy ‘lower risks of ill health’; they would instead be referred to as ‘normal’, while formula fed infants are in fact ‘exposed’ to increased risk of poor health and development.

Whilst we often blame the media for twisting research, and indeed at times they clearly do! Perhaps we need to go further still back down the chain and start by ensuring the science is sound?

20 "Essential" Baby Items That Aren't Essential...

NOTE: Some people seem to have misinterpreted this article and feel I am suggesting no person ever needed the items below.  This is not the case.  I found with my first and second babies, my list of "essentials" was completely different; this meant with number 1 I had heaps of stuff sat around unused, and other stuff I needed to go and buy.  With number 2 I used some of the stuff I hadn't with the first, but there was still a heap I didn't and still stuff I had to buy.

Almost every baby website has a list of items every expectant parent needs or may want to have before the big day! Just how extensive the list of items is varies wildly list to list.

I'm going the other way, with a list of items you can do without - or at the very least buy at a later date when you know they're definitely going to be used.

Some people want or need to parent frugally, others want to go as environmentally friendly as possible - or perhaps both! Anyway hope this helps.

1.  Baby Bath - Many people already have a perfect sized baby bath.  One that is easy to drain, comfortable standing height and ready plumbed in - yep the sink.   Baby baths need draining one way or another - if you use them in the big bath, you then have to lean over the bath sides to wash a small slippery baby.  If you move them out of the bath, you need to carry a bath full of water somewhere, then back for emptying!  The sink can be a lot easier.

Another option (usually the favourite from baby's point of view) is to bathe/shower with baby; if you have a partner who would enjoy some 1-2-1 time with baby, this can be a perfect opportunity.  Heat and contact release oxytocin - which promotes good feelings and bonding.

Lastly a cheaper option than a dedicated baby bath is a washing up bowl - no built in drainage, but sit in the bath and tip it out when finished.

2.  Formula - Many parents who plan to breastfeed, feel they need to buy infant formula "just in case". You don't.  If a breastmilk substitute is required for medical reasons shortly after birth - this is provided by all hospitals in the UK.  Once you get home, or if you plan a homebirth - every supermarket, chemist, any numerous other places sell it if needed.  The other thing is if you have a bad night, mums report having formula on hand can be more "tempting", by the time the next day comes and they could go an buy some, they've changed their mind!

A more environmentally and pocket friendly option is milk donated from another breastfeeding mother (so it's same species rather than modified cow's milk)  There is lots of information online about milk sharing - a good starting point is this FAQ, and also this.  Details about how to flash pasteurise breastmilk at home can be found here

3.  Bottles & Teats - Logically it appears to make sense that if you plan to use bottles at some point,  you might as well add them to the baby list of things to buy when pregnant.  Not really so...

Firstly some mums never use a bottle - even if they planned to!  They move from breast to something like the doidy cup or a soft spout transitional cup such as this (Free of bisphenol-a (BPA), lead, PVC, nitrosamines, phthalates, melamine etc).

Even if you decide to use bottles, not all bottles suit all babies!  New bottles are released all the time, existing ones improved - you may want a different one when the times comes to use it.  If you've already bought a pack of 6/8 bottles it can be an expensive waste - at least if the need arises you can try a single first.

If you just want them to store breatmilk you can buy cheaper breastmilk storage bottles or bags.

4.  Breast pump - This seems to always make the essentials list with the assumption all mums will express at some point so someone else can feed the baby, and for some mums who are returning to work etc they may know in advance they want a pump to build a stash etc.  Other mums never end up using a pump - they may hand expressing works better for them, or find it works out easier for mum to just feed.  That's not to say others can't help out with baby, but it may be more convenient for them to nip baby back to mum for feeding when required.  Ultimately if you do decide you want one, the shops will still sell them then, and like bottles new pumps can hit the market.

In terms of buying second hand breastpumps, it's important to ensure they are is a CLOSED system - this means it is sealed to protect breastmilk reaching parts that cannot be adequately cleaned (which would be unhygenic for future users).

Medela systems are NOT closed as you can read here, and so I wouldn't advocate buying/selling one second hand.

5.  Bottle warmer - When using breastmilk substitutes guidance is now to make each bottle fresh, so I think this makes a bottle warmer pretty pointless.  Even if warming breastmilk (which is fine at room temperature) a couple of minutes stood in warm water and job done without an appliance that needs regularly de-scaling and takes up counter space.

6.  Nipple creams/ointments and nipple shields - Something else that can seem like a good idea just in case, but I have to wonder how many tubes get thrown away unopened if mum never has cause to use it.  Whilst this seems to go hand in hand with the notion everyone gets sore/painful nipples when they start feeding, this isn't true either.

Some nipple creams can contain a whole host of ingredients that you may not want baby ingesting eg Kamillosan contains:
"Extracts of chamomile 10.5% w/w standardised to provide 0.01% L-a-bisabolol. Other ingredients include maize oil, purified lanolin, yellow soft paraffin, beeswax, emulsifying wax and approved preservative (mixture of esters p-hydroxybenzoic acid)"

And although Lansinoh, a pure lanolin ointment state:
"In the over 20 years that Lansinoh has been available, the company is not aware of a single documented case of an allergic reaction to Lansinoh HPA Lanolin. However, that does not mean that someone somewhere could have a possible reaction."
They clearly don't class all the comments online discussing reaction as "documented cases", and in practice I have seen  thrush type symptoms (burning/itching) following use that has ceased when Lansinoh did, whether repeat coincidence or not - why buy until you need?   Midwives in the UK will also often give you samples of nipple ointment if required.

7.  Nappy cream - Very similar reasoning to the nipple cream.  Neither of my children ever had any sort of rash on their nether regions and thus the tube of just in case cream (with my first) remained unopened. Even if your baby does get a rash, what type of rash may influence your choice of which cream to use and you might want something different to what you have!

8.  Steriliser - Many never question whether they will need a steriliser, it's assumed essential.  But it is really?

Sterilising is an old practice, and many nowadays are questioning whether it is required at all.

In the US & Canada, paediatricians like Dr Flanders now recommend sterilising before first use, following which a thorough wash with hot soapy water is adequate (having a Google this seems quite common US guidance)

A study entitled: Cleaning and sterilisation of infant feeding equipment : a systematic review found:
"National guidelines from six countries demonstrated variation and lack of evidence to support current guidance. Manufacturers did not report evidence of effectiveness to support their recommendations. Nine studies were identified; eight conducted between 1962 and 1985 and one in 1997. All had methodological weaknesses. Hand-washing was identified as fundamentally important."
The study goes on to say:
Authors of several of the included studies suggested that the ‘clean’ (washed with hot soapy water and rinsed with hot running water) method is a safe alternative to traditional ‘sterilisation’ techniques, provided the safety of the water is assured. However, three studies found higher numbers of organisms on teats, suggesting that they are more difficult to clean effectively than bottles. Gatherer indicated that bacteriology results were excellent using either thorough cleaning or sterilisation; this was attributed to the education provided for mothers
"Use of dishwashers has been implicated in the release of plasticisers following a relatively small number of washes"
What the study also highlights is there is a distinct lack of evidence as to what is "optimum".  If using chemical cleaners should they be rinsed?  Should items be dried or left to try.  Dishwashers clearly aren't ideal for plastic although of course glass bottles are an option if they are required - what is the difference in bacteria levels between plastic and glass?  Is a bottle brush a good idea?  Logically yes it helps reach inside teats etc, yet what bacteria do these harbour and what are bacterial counts with and without?

As the review above states, what is being cleaned ie a teat v cup makes a difference and also what substance is used ie breastmilk or substitutes is also likely to be significant.  Breastmilk is antibacterial whereas substitutes promote bacteria growth, and furthermore infants not receiving breastmilk are at increased risk of diarrhoeal disease.

Indeed a study examining diahorreal disease found:
"After adjustment for confounders, breastfeeding was associated with significantly less diarrhoeal disease. Associations were striking even in infants aged ≥ 6 months.  They did not vary by social class, but were greater in those living in rented council accommodation and in more crowded households." 
"In formula-fed infants, there was significantly more diarrhoeal disease in those not sterilising bottles/teats with steam or chemicals."
(however how well the bottles were hand washed appropriately was not measured)
Given how much money must be generated from the sale of sterilising equipment, do you not think someone might have bothered to confirm what's actually the most effective way of doing things?

If you want to sterilise and use sterilising tablets - any glass bowl will do, no special equipment required.  Ditto boiling in a pan of water.

If you breastfeed you may find you never need to sterilise anything!

9.  Pram/Travel System - The trouble with prams is that unless you buy right at the top end of the price range, it's really difficult to find the perfect pram from newborn to toddler.  Newborns need to go flat, so a carry cot you can attach, a lie flat option or the ability to attach a carseat is important.

The latter sounds practical but in practice they can be heavy to lift on to the pram base, and often fiddly to clip and unclip. The other big downside to these systems is they are often really heavy and cumbersome - ok for school runs and long walks, PITA for throwing in and out of a car boot (after you've checked they actually fit!)  A carry cot may also only be suitable for just a few months, before baby needs to switch.

Evidence also suggests young infants should face the parent - often prams do this with the carseat attached, before switching to front facing as they become older.  As these are typically more expensive, saving money on a carrycot or the function to allow a carseat to attach can be a good option for some.  The cheapest rearfacing I could find was this - but if you know of others please share.

Another option is to ditch the pram idea for a tiny baby and use a really good baby carrier or sling - fraction of the price (even more so if you get second hand as there is a large market - some people buy oodles and sell them on barely used).  If you get something like a wrap for a tiny baby, you can use it indoors as well as out, giving you hands free to eat etc!  You can tie it on in a morning and lift the baby in and out as required whilst leaving it in place (including during car journeys etc)  Tiny babies love being snuggled close, which means they're happy - and you can negotiate the shops without wheels! (which in busy clothing shops or suchlike with narrow aisles between racks can be more of a bonus than you realise.)

Even if you want to add say a pouch sling to your collection for easy on and off carries, it's still cheaper than a high tech pram.  Some mums even make their own!

As baby gets older although you may want to change your sling for something perfect for a heavier baby, perhaps so you can wear them on your back and cook safely etc, again it's cheaper than wheels.  But if you do want pushability as they get heavier, you can then opt for a light weight buggy that's significantly cheaper and lighter than something suitable from birth.

10.  Breastfeeding cushion/pillow - Honestly most are pants, they make feeding more difficult and can be incredibly restricting if you don't feel comfortable feeding without it.

11.  Special breastfeeding clothes - Whilst they're an option if you want, they're really not essential.  Milk Chic is a site dedicated to finding breastfeeding friendly clothes on the highstreet, with lots of tips and tricks about how to feed in different items.  From this you may well find loads in your old wardrobe that is easy and convenient to feed in.

If you feel conscious of your tummy, a simple elastic "boob tube" slipped down to your waist, can help you feel covered even if you lift your top to feed, and again save on purpose made clothes.  If you don't have one, you could make one here - or you can buy one made for the job called a bellyband here

12.  Cot/Moses Basket/Crib - Some parents think all the above are required.  Moses basket for downstairs, crib for upstairs when small, progressing to a cot.  Whether you ditch all of the above or slim things down, is really a matter of personal preference.

Some breastfeeding mums choose to bed share - wear the sling during the day and none of the above are required.   You can add a bedside guard like this if desired.

Another option is a cot that sits snug next to your bed, so you can have the benefits of co-sleeping ie baby is arms reach, whilst having your own "sleep space".  Not having to sit up, lean over, retrieve baby, feed, try and lower them back into basket/crib (which in young babies triggers their startle or Moro reflex) however many times a night is a real bonus when you're living it!  You can buy special cots for this purpose such as this, and this at a snip of the price but only has two height levels (so check suitability) - but there are also tutorials online as to how you can adapt other height adjusting cots to suit, by matching matress height, removing a side and securing to the bed.

However you sleep it is important to ensure there are no gaps baby could become trapped or wedged down, and that there is no possibility of anything shifting to create a gap.  More information available here.

13.  All associated bedding for above - OK so unless bed sharing and you switch your own bedding to sheets and blankets, you will probably need some dedicated bedding for baby at night; but kitting out even one cot is cheaper than cot, crib, moses basket and pram.  Don't forget that as well as the fitted and loose sheet, you need numerous blankets for babies if they're in prams or sleeping in a cot/basket day as well as night.  You need several sets of each too due to sickness/nappy leakages etc and if using natural fabrics as recommended can quickly add up cost wise.  Of course if you're frugal and talented you can knit your own!

14. Lots of baby toiletries - The section is huge, but some are now questioning longer term links with health.
To read more about what's worth avoiding and alternatives this is a helpful page.

Guidance in generally that most things shouldn't be used on newborns who have thinner more porous skin than an older baby or adult. Some parents use virgin coconut oil for both bathing/moisturising afterwards - it's not the cheapest thing in the world but a little does go a long way when warmed on the skin.  Otherwise, plain old tap water works just fine!

15.  A special "baby bag" - If you're breastfeeding you may find all you need to carry is a spare nappy, no need to carry around everything required to prepare substitutes safely.  Even if you want to take water wipes, a change of clothes and a nappy, many bags can fit this in easily, with different compartments for if you're using reusable nappies.  If you end up using formula and need a bag with dedicated thermal pockets and big enough to fit in formula, water, bottles, teats (for as many feeds as will be required when out) bibs etc you could again get one if needed.

16.  A swing, rocker or bouncy chair - The reality 98% of all young babies surveyed preferred a sling ;) But seriously, it's impossible to know what your baby will like before they arrive.  Some hate a sideways rocking motion whilst others love it, ditto swings and bouncy chairs. If you  wait until baby arrives you can at least try them out in it and also evaluate how much you would actually use it.

Again a good reason to wait until needed is to get maximum use - some bouncy chairs are only suitable up to 6-9 months of age eg this is six months.  So if baby is 4-5 months before happy to even sit in it, it has a very short usage.  Others such as the Baby Bjorn at least can be adjusted into a chair for a child up to two, so if you did decide it an essential with an older baby, check out how long you will be able to use it for.

17.  Bibs - Whilst at some point most people will probably pop a bib on their baby, small babies don't always need them.  Whilst some posset regularly, others like my first never do (nor did she drool)  and so lots of "essential" bibs were never worn.  Again it's worth buying if/when you need as what sort of bib is more appropriate again changes with age - tiny baby ones are, well, tiny and often v soft if just catching milk.      For an older baby or one eating solids you may want something with sleeves or that you ensure will protect clothes well.

18.  Muslin Cloths - I know many people states these as invaluable, suitable for over shoulder burping plus loads of other uses.  Yet I didn't use them at all with my first, they just sat in a drawer.  As she wasn't a sicky baby I never needed anything over my shoulder.

18.  Baby Brush/Comb - I wondered if I was the only person who didn't consider these essential with a young baby, but a chat on Facebook highlighted many babies had bald heads or very fine hair for quite some time!  Some used the soft brush for cradle cap, others the comb for the odd baby with longer hair that became knotty, some found despite having long hair it didn't get knotty and was never brushed (my second has hair like this) so again it would seem more sensible to buy if/as you need.  If they're an older baby you may find a toddler brush more useful than the very ultra soft brush designed for use on a tiny baby.

19.  Bath Thermometer - Maybe we had a dud one, but the water felt cold at the "approved" temp and baby ended up shivering!  Used once then ditched.   We have a built in thermometer - the elbow.

20.  Nappies - Ok so to many there is no question over whether a nappy is essential, but some mums have the ultimate "eco bot", using a method called "Elimination Communication".  Some use nappies part time such as at night or when out, whilst others are completely nappy free - if you're passionate about the environment and/or budget it may be something you want to explore.

Does spoon feeding predispose babies to obesity?

Was the question in the news this week.  Well actually the Beeb covered it as:
"Spoon feeding 'makes babies fatter"

The discussion that has followed has been interesting, such a provocative title is intended to have mummies grabbing their iPhones to read more - and indeed many responses were to chip in anecdotal data (ie I did X and my child is Y) 

The news coverage follows a study published this month in BMJ Open entitled "Baby knows best? The impact of weaning style on food preferences and body mass index in early childhood in a case–controlled sample".  The aim:
The impact of different weaning methods on food preferences and body mass index (BMI) in early childhood is not known. Here, we examine if weaning method—baby-led weaning versus traditional spoon feeding—influences food preferences and health-related outcomes.
So what's the upshot?

The reality is that the anecdotal comments on Facebook were ultimately nearly half the size of the study.  It contained a mere 155 children,  92 given finger foods and 63 spoon fed.  The age range was 20–78 months.  The study examined weight and taste preferences.

It's therefore definitely important to recognise the limitations of this study (and the authors do).  No adjustment was made for early feeding method ie we know breastfed infants are exposed to different flavours via breastmilk, and therefore may well be part of forming "tastes".  We need to look at what the first foods were in both groups because sweet foods such as baby rice have also been show longer term to impact on obesity levels.  Ideally we also need a study of a much larger group and also over a much longer period of time ie what happens at puberty and beyond.   Being slim and able to regulate ones appetite from a selection of healthy choices at 4, doesn't mean this will be the case at 20, 30 or 40.

However - I still think it's worth studying the evidence a bit further; to work out exactly what it does and doesn't say, because as usual this seems to have caused a little confusion.

One blog on Babycentre read:
"When researchers compared kids based on BMI, they found that kids who’d experienced old-fashioned spoon feeding were more likely to have become obese. In addition, those kids tended to rate sweets as their favourite foods.
By contrast, the kids who’d experienced baby-led feeding showed a preference for carbohydrates, not sweets. And these kids were more likely to end up underweight."
Note -  it was parents who rated the children's taste preferences, not the kids.  This means there is the potential for a variance in expectations and perceptions, plus the diet offered.

The blog goes on to say:
"So in this small survey, baby-led weaning was linked with skinnier kids."
What the study actually says is:
"BMI scores differed significantly between groups lower BMI were associated with baby-led weaning in the whole sample. The mean BMI percentile rank for the baby-led group was close to the expected average."
"In contrast, the mean percentile rank for the spoon-fed group was above the average level, indicating that more children in this group were likely to be classed as overweight."
"BMI z-scores were also found to differ significantly between the weaning groups. We found there to be an increased incidence of obese children in the spoon-fed group (n=8) as compared to the baby-led group (n=1)"
In contrast, more children in the baby-led group were classified as significantly underweight (n=3)
So you could phrase it that the "baby led weaned is linked with skinnier kids", but only if you are holding spoon fed, potentially heavier babies as the basis for comparison.  Truth is the baby-led group was close to the expected average ie they were just normal weight.

Furthermore 9 children were obese, 8 spoon fed and 1 baby led.  3 children were underweight, all baby led.    Therefore the risk of overweight when spoon feeding was statistically much greater than the risk of being underweight was if baby led.

What the study also doesn't tell us is what the child's position was prior to solids, which is surely significant?  Were some infants already considered above expected weight and this has continued with solids, or has there been an increase since introduction?  Were those underweight already so before solids? If something is underlying such as a hidden tongue tie, not only may that influence weight pre solids, but may also impact on method of introduction; if baby is orally sensitive they may have refused a spoon and thus be baby led weaned as a result rather than a choice.

The Babycentre blog then goes on to say:
"But notice what the study didn’t show. It didn’t show that the graduates of baby-led feeding were more likely to eat vegetables (they weren’t). Nor did it show that baby-led feeding made kids more interested in nutritious, balanced diets. Or that spoon feeding increased a child’s chances of becoming a picky eater.
When it came to these variables, the two groups had similar outcomes.
And maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not clear to me that letting babies feed themselves is going to turn them into exemplary eaters. What makes children accept healthful foods is repeated exposure, social cues, and pleasant experiences. There are many good reasons to offer your baby safe finger foods. Self-feeding is stimulating for the baby and fun to watch. But we shouldn’t assume baby-led feeding is the key to good eating habits. Or that the spoon is the road to ruin."
But in fact the study actually states:
"Interestingly, the baby-led group showed increased preference for all food categories except sweets compared to the spoon-fed group (although this was only significant for carbohydrates)".
The researchers of the study also seemed to draw quite different overall conclusions:
"Our findings show that baby-led weaning has a positive impact on the liking for carbohydrates—foods that form the building blocks of healthy nutrition (ie, those found at the bottom of the food pyramid). This is a significant finding since, to date, the factors thought to be most influential on early food preferences are sweetness and familiarity (exposure). Consistent with previous research, the spoon-fed group preferred sweet foods most, whereas the baby-led group most preferred carbohydrates (even though significantly higher exposure to carbohydrates was reported in the spoon-fed group)." 
"Our results suggest that baby-led weaning promotes healthy food preferences in early childhood that could protect against obesity. This finding is of note given the serious problems with childhood obesity facing many modern societies."
Whilst as discussed the study is limited - I definitely think it's an interesting foundation.  To me there are many logical reasons for letting a child self feed, potentially improved appetite regulation longterm is one, and it also makes sense to me that it is much easier to overeat if someone is spoon feeding you.

People suggest as long as you are responsive and stop when their cues show - you prevent overeating, but I'm not sure it's as clear cut as that.  Firstly if you take anything and purée it, you can eat more of it - if you don't believe me make a smoothie and see how many pieces of fruit you use.  I've heard it said you can consume three times the amount of food in a blended state, and whilst overall I haven't check how solid the evidence base is for this - a 2006 study I found is interesting:
"70 twelve-month-old infants were exposed to cooked carrots prepared in two different textures; pureed and chopped. Infants’ mean intakes in grams for the pureed and the chopped carrots were 70.9 ± 49.1 g and 24.6 ± 28 g respectively. Infants consumed significantly more puréed carrots (t(69) = 8.50, p < 0.001)" (1)
The ability to consume more calories for the "full feeling" is the reason on diets such as Slimming World, you can have unlimited whole fruit but v limited amounts of smoothies.  Similarly if you're ill often they are recommended as an easier way to increase intake of nutrients and calories.

Many mums also note constipation in purée weaned babies (indicating the solid/fluid balance has shifted too far), whilst this is virtually unheard of in self feeding infants.

Next there is speed.  The Babycentre blogger above said:
"How did hunter-gatherers make baby food mash? No special technology needed. The mother took a bite of the unprocessed food, chewed it into a pulp, and then spit it into the baby’s mouth."
So for each mouthful the mum has to chew and process the food before passing to baby - which provides a natural gap after each mouthful, much like if baby were eating it themselves.  Plenty of time to recognise they're full.  Compare this to a mum feeding her baby puree from a bowl, and the speed with which the spoon is reloaded and returned.

Also, sure cavemum prechewed foods such as meat and roots - but is there anything to suggest she did this for ALL foods?  Logically to me you would do this for something hard to break down, but why if something was already soft?   Even after mastication, meat is not that completely smooth texture of a purée?

We know when babies are getting ready to eat they begin a chewing action, they often do it when you're eating - why if they're only meant to eat foods which requires swallowing with no chewing at all?  Perhaps a study on jaw development between spoon fed and purée weaned infants may also be interesting (particularly if earlier feeding methods were also included in the study)?

Something that seems to have been overlooked by most discussing this (and indeed the study) is age of introduction.  I think this is a key point of baby led weaning ie when baby starts reaching for foods they get them, rather than the parents deciding if baby is showing signs of readiness.  There is evidence cavewomen wore their babies in slings, and so when do you think they would have weaned?  When baby started chewing actions and trying to grab solids - or when their baby woke more frequently at night?  Bearing in mind of course night time would be when a baby then did most of their feeding, and of course they would be sleeping together - baby wouldn't be in a different cave.....

Furthermore what effect does today's puree practice have on foods?

Chewing by the mother would begin the digestive process - see here.  But blending according to this referenced article has a different impact:
"The more processed a food is, the quicker it can raise your blood sugar levels. Fruit purées are more processed compared to whole fruits, but not as much compared to fruit juices. In other words, fruit purees can raise your blood sugar levels faster compared to fresh fruits, but not as fast as fruit juices. Unfortunately, fruits lose a lot of their fiber and nutrients when processed into a puree. Opt for whole fruits as much as possible, because their higher fiber content will help prevent a large increase in blood sugar levels. If you prepare your own fruit purees, keep the peel on, after washing it thoroughly, to increase the fiber content of the purees.
Some mums are told to blend and then put through a sieve or moulee, removing fibre and resulting in a product more comparable to juice.  There also seems to be some discussion over whether "resistant starches" are broken down in a food processor, thus making them available and increasing calorie content by more than 5%.- however I haven't had time to go into a long evidence based hunt for this, so you would need to if you want to know more!

The researchers also highlight that how the food is presented also impact on preference stating:

Foods in their whole food format, such as toast, rather than a pureed form may highlight awareness of perceptual features (such as texture) that is masked when food is pureed.

The study that examined chopped and blended carrots above found:
"A great variability in the consumption of chopped carrots was found within the infants. Analysis showed that familiarity with different textures, especially chopped foods, is the strongest predictor of intake and liking of chopped carrots."

"The present research is a first step to explain the variation in infants’ consumption and liking of different textures. It highlights the importance of not only varying the child’s experiences with different flavours but also with different textures to foster the infants’ transition to an adult diet."
What do I think?
I think there has to be some instinct mixed in with the research.  I did purée feeding with my first and baby led with my second, and I would never return to mush again!

However, I did also follow my instincts - yes raw carrot and lettuce are a lovely sensory experience for a younger baby new to eating, but I wouldn't only provide these as a meal; I would add something softer and more nutrient dense such as say fish cakes and steamed broccoli.  Roasted veg were a favourite and if the carrots were still a bit hard, sometimes I would give them a slight squish as I put them down to make them a little easier for him - particularly if he was "shouting" he was hungry.  Similarly I would make things such as porridge thicker, so they were easier for him to self feed

There are no prizes for ignoring your instincts and presenting baby with a selection of foods because they are what you think you should be giving in order to do  "pure" baby led weaning.

If a mum feels more confident initially giving something a rough mash with a fork before letting baby self feed, which builds confidence and develops into more sliced/whole foods as baby develops - this is surely better than mum think she doesn't want to do whole foods and so needs to purée and spoon herself?

Something else I haven't seen discussed much from the study is choking.
"93.5% of the baby-led group reported that their child had never experienced a choking incident (a serious concern for parents and practitioners"
It's a real shame they didn't also collect this figure for the purée weaned - as my first had a choking incident when she began more solid foods at around 8 months.

I think the researchers sum up well:
"A large controlled prospective study is now required, which examines weaning practices in tandem with the other key factors, including BMI, milk feeding practices (breast vs bottle/formula fed), socioeconomic status, locus of control and picky eating. In particular, a study is needed that includes a greater proportion of children who have been formula/bottle fed in order to compare the relative impacts of weaning method and milk feeding practices on food preferences and health outcomes in early childhood"
1.I. Blossfeld, A. Collins, M. Kiely, C. Delahunty, Texture preferences of 12-month-old infants and the role of early experiences, Food Quality and Preference, Volume 18, Issue 2, March 2007, Pages 396-404, ISSN 0950-3293, 10.1016/j.foodqual.2006.03.022.