Baby Led Weaning seems to be everywhere, but what exactly is it? And when your baby is ready for weaning, how can you be confident you’re doing it right?
Taking a moment to understand what Baby Led Weaning is and how to do it, is key. Knowledge is power after all. It may just give you all the assurance you need to try it when the time comes.
What Is Baby Led Weaning?
Baby Led Weaning is a feeding method that bypasses the spoon feeding stage. In the past, many parents have followed a more traditional way of pureeing their baby’s first foods. But Baby Led Weaning encourages a baby to pick up their first foods themselves. It allows them to try soft, textured foods right from the start.
At six months, the age to begin weaning, most babies are able to sit up, swallow and grasp items. At this point, babies don’t need food that has been pureed to a smooth pulp. They’re equipped to handle soft, roughly chopped textures.
Baby Led Weaning uses a combination of finger foods that can be grasped by baby. Soft, textured foods can prepare your baby to be more tolerant of different tastes in the future. It will also reward them with good table manners for life. Some studies reckon Baby Led Weaning can also help them have less of a sweet tooth and lower obesity rates when they grow older!
Before you start it’s great to get all the advice you need. The NHS has a wealth of information to help.
How to Start Baby Led Weaning
When you’re happy that your baby is ready to start weaning, pick some foods you already eat at home. Remember, Baby Led Weaning is not ‘baby leading you to the shops to buy a whole load of different stuff’. They should be eating what you are already eating. Start with something simple.
To get started:
- Sit your baby upright in their chair
- Apply a suitable clothing protector, this WILL get messy
- Make sure there are no distractions
- Always stay with your child when they are eating
- Cut food into large batons for them to grasp easily
- Boil or steam hard vegetables and fruits to make them softer (and allow them to cool)
- Be confident! Your baby will be trying out their gag reflex so don’t confuse this with choking
- Keep work tops, high chairs and utensils clean
So, is Baby Led Weaning for my Baby?
One of the disadvantages to Baby Led Weaning is that it will produce mess and some food waste. In the beginning, there will be a lot of spitting out, flying food and extra washing. It will be small amounts though, and should become less as your baby develops.
Also, because so much will end up on the floor, it can be hard to know how much food your baby is actually eating! But, by keeping up with adequate formula/breast milk this shouldn’t be an issue in the beginning.
Is It All Just Hype?
The popularity of Baby Led Weaning is on the rise. But as with anything in life, there are always conflicting opinions. There have been encouraging findings in studies, but these need to be further explored still. More positively, there are lots of interesting reads that are really worth a minute or two of coffee time.
Some of the positive comments made by parents using Baby Led Weaning offer a great deal to think about:
“I love the fact that my baby can sit at the table and engage with us at meal times.”
“So much easier than organising the puree batch sessions I used to do with my older two.”
“I know I don’t have to pack the kitchen with me when I go out with friends, as he will eat anything he can hold!”
Baby Led Weaning can be a great way to introduce food to your baby, but it really is down to the individual. Equipped with the right information, it can fit in perfectly with family meal times. So you can look forward to pulling up your baby’s chair to the family table!