London - Babies who are spoon-fed are more likely to become overweight, a study revealed on Tuesday.
Those allowed to feed themselves during weaning are less likely to overeat as toddlers because they learn to stop when they are full, it said.
They are also less likely to become fussy eaters.
Researcher Amy Brown, of Swansea University, said adults who spoon-feed children pureed foods create bad eating habits which can lead to childhood obesity.
Dr Brown said: ‘There is increasing recognition of the role of feeding style during infancy upon how a child’s appetite and eating style develops.
‘Taking a baby-led approach to weaning may reduce a baby’s risk of being overweight as they are in control of their food intake.
‘This results in the baby being better able to control his or her appetite, which could have a long-term impact upon weight gain and eating style that may continue into childhood.’
In ‘baby-led’ weaning, infants are given a range of whole foods which they can pick up and eat freely.
The study, in the journal Pediatric Obesity, observed the weight and eating habits of 298 babies between the ages of six months and two years.
It found toddlers who fed themselves in infancy were ‘significantly’ better at not eating after they were full, and were less likely to be overweight.