Baby-led weaning in Italy and potential implications for infant development

Elsa Addessi, Amy T Galloway, Twila Wingrove, Hadley Brochu, Arianna Pierantozzi, Francesca Bellagamba, Claire V Farrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Baby-led weaning is an approach to complementary feeding that emphasizes an infant's ability to self-feed rather than being spoon fed, and to eat minimally-processed foods rather than puréed foods. This study aimed to investigate the variability in infant feeding practices and the possible association with developmental milestones in an Italian population. A sample of 1245 mothers of 6-12 month-old infants completed an online survey about complementary feeding and their infant's attainment of developmental milestones. Infants' eating of family food was positively related to self-feeding and to a lower consumption of puréed foods. As in previous studies in the UK and New Zealand, a baby-led weaning style was positively associated with breastfeeding, exposure to complementary foods around six months of age, earlier exposure to both finger and family foods, and higher interest in family food and shared family meals. Infants who were introduced to solid foods using a baby-led weaning approach were more likely to have met important developmental milestones; when controlling for covariates, percentage of family feeding was positively associated with sitting unsupported at an earlier age and a low spoon-feeding style was associated with crawling at an earlier age. These data suggest that baby-led weaning should be defined more comprehensively. Moreover, its potential influence on developmental domains beyond diet and eating behavior warrants future targeted exploration. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.]
Original languageEnglish
Article number105286
Early online date4 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license.

Funding: Financial support during the writing of this article was pro-vided to EA by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, Progetti di Rilevante Interesse Nazionale [grant number 2017WH8B84], which was not involved in study design, collection, analysis, interpretation of data, writing of the report, decision to submit the article for publication.


  • Baby-led weaning
  • Complementary feeding
  • Developmental milestones
  • Infant feeding behavior
  • Infant feeding decisions
  • Weaning


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