To determine the impact of a baby-led approach to complementary feeding on infant choking and gagging.
Randomized controlled trial in 206 healthy infants allocated to control (usual care) or Baby-Led Introduction to SolidS (BLISS; 8 contacts from antenatal to 9 months providing resources and support). BLISS is a form of baby-led weaning (ie, infants feed themselves all their food from the beginning of complementary feeding) modified to address concerns about choking risk. Frequencies of choking and gagging were collected by questionnaire (at 6, 7, 8, 9, 12 months) and daily calendar (at 6 and 8 months); 3-day weighed diet records measured exposure to foods posing a choking risk (at 7 and 12 months).
A total of 35% of infants choked at least once between 6 and 8 months of age, and there were no significant group differences in the number of choking events at any time (all Ps > .20). BLISS infants gagged more frequently at 6 months (relative risk [RR] 1.56; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.13–2.17), but less frequently at 8 months (RR 0.60; 95% CI, 0.42–0.87), than control infants. At 7 and 12 months, 52% and 94% of infants were offered food posing a choking risk during the 3-day record, with no significant differences between groups (7 months: RR 1.12; 95% CI, 0.79–1.59; 12 months: RR 0.94; 95% CI, 0.83–1.07).
Infants following a baby-led approach to feeding that includes advice on minimizing choking risk do not appear more likely to choke than infants following more traditional feeding practices. However, the large number of children in both groups offered foods that pose a choking risk is concerning.