Newborn babies fed whenever they want could help to keep their appetite and weight in check as they age, new research has found.

Scientists at Queensland University of Technology, Australia, say that babies are born with a sense of how much food they need, and will naturally stop eating when they are full.

The findings go against the traditional view that babies need routine, and that by giving in to their demands to be fed could lead them to becoming spoilt.

Lynne Daniles, professor of nutrition at the university looked at almost 300 babies, and discovered that those fed on demand were lighter at 14 months than those who were fed to a routine.

The professor reported her findings to the European Congress on obesity. She said:

"If the mother is responsive, she is responding to the child's cues of hunger and not over-riding them.

"Whereas, if a mother feeds in schedule, she decides whether or not he is hungry and is more likely to make the child finish the bottle."

Posted by Robert Mair on 31.5.11 Comment on this article by sending it to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com