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The cost of baby-led vs. parent-led approaches to introducing complementary foods in New Zealand


Baby-led approaches to complementary feeding promote intake of family foods rather than infant specific foods, from the start of the complementary feeding period, which advocates suggest should be less expensive. However, this has never been formally examined. We recently completed a 2-year randomised controlled trial comparing baby-led (BLISS) and traditional spoon-feeding (Control) approaches to complementary feeding in 206 infants. Perceived expense was assessed at infant 7, 8, 9 and 12 months of age. The actual cost of intake (food offered, consumed and left over) was calculated from 3-day weighed diet records at 7 and 12 months of age. BLISS was perceived as less expensive than traditional feeding (P = 0.002), but comparisons of actual costs showed only small differences in total daily cost for food offered (NZ$0.20 and NZ$0.10 at 7 and 12 months, respectively), consumed (NZ$0.30, NZ$0.20) or left over (NZ$0.10, NZ$0.20). Baby-led approaches are not cheaper for families than traditional spoon-feeding.

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We are grateful to all the families who participated in the BLISS study, and to the BLISS research staff in the Departments of Medicine and Human Nutrition at the University of Otago.


The BLISS Study was funded by Lottery Health Research, Meat & Livestock Australia, Karitane Products Society, Perpetual Trustees, The New Zealand Federation of Women’s Institutes, and the University of Otago, with ‘in kind’ contributions from Heinz Watties Ltd. RWT is supported by a Fellowship from Karitane Products Society. LD was in receipt of a University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship, and LWE was in receipt of a University of Otago Masters Scholarship. The funding sources had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis or interpretation of the data; preparation, review or approval of the paper; or the decision to submit the paper for publication.

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RWT had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. ALMH and RWT are co-Principal Investigators of the BLISS study, obtained the funding, and developed the study concept and design. All authors were involved in the acquisition, analysis or interpretation of data, and JJH designed and undertook all statistical analyses. EAF provided expert dietetic input. RWT wrote the first and subsequent drafts of the paper. All authors critically revised the paper for important intellectual content.

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Correspondence to R. W. Taylor.

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Bacchus, S., Taylor, R.W., Fleming, E.A. et al. The cost of baby-led vs. parent-led approaches to introducing complementary foods in New Zealand. Eur J Clin Nutr 74, 1474–1477 (2020).

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