What a pity it is that there appears to be no scientific evidence to back up all these claims.
That is not to say that it’s all rubbish. One part that I really agree with is letting the baby decide how much she wants to eat, rather than have the mother decide for her. It sure works with breastfeeding in which Mum has very little say (and in fact barely knows) about the volume of milk the baby gets. This is probably one of the more important reasons why breastfed babies tend to get less obesity and overweight later.
So if the baby can really regulate her intake once she starts solids then it follows this would be something to really encourage.
For some babies the process works well. The little one figures it out and, though there can be a fearful amount of mess, she needs very little help to get enough to satisfy herself (and hopefully her mother). That is as long as mama is patient and recognises that large amounts of food are not actually necessary in the early months after solids introduction.
Many babies however are less competent at the transferral of food into mouth (and down the throat). Just as some babies walk at a year of age and some take their time until eighteen months, so with self-feeding. Also quite a few mothers find the process too challenging, both in time spent cleaning up and watching anxiously to see how much ends up inside the baby, and how much ends up on the floor, in the hair or on the cat. And with these baby meals, don’t be in a hurry. They can take hours!
Some mothers are also anxious about the baby inhaling and choking on the food. This bit is clear: there is no need to worry. As mentioned elsewhere, babies have an incredible ability to protect their airway and they will not allow food (or even fluids for that matter) to go down the wrong tube. It is still important however to make sure the food you give your baby is not crumbly, or the pieces of food are not too hard to mash with the gums.
The proponents suggest that if one feeds the baby conventionally by spoon that they come to rely on that and lag behind others in the ability to feed themselves later. In essence this is probably true as practice does make perfect, but we’re talking only a few months. Does this actually matter?
By 10 months most babies want to start feeding themselves anyway, and, indeed, can get quite pushy about it. Sometimes they will start refusing food from the spoon and insist on doing it themselves.