Baby-Led Weaning – All You Need To Know
Baby-led weaning is a fairly new concept, but it is taking the baby world by storm. It is an approach to introducing babies to solid food where there are no purees, but instead babies are encouraged to self-feed. During full baby-led weaning, there should really be no need for spoon feeding.
This may seem scary to some moms who are not familiar with this form of feeding, or first time moms who are worried about their babies choking, but baby-led weaning should only be introduced when you are sure your baby is ready to handle solids. Only look for these signs or consider introducing solids once your baby is 6 months old. If your baby is showing an interest in your food, can grasp objects with finger and thumb, can sit upright supported and has lost the tongue thrust reflex, then they should be ready to start with some solid foods.
Baby-led weaning is giving your baby the chance to feed themselves food. The food such as toast, breaded fish or steamed vegetables should be large enough for your baby to pick up and bite, and not too small that they stick it in their mouth without chewing. The food should also be soft enough for them to chew through without teeth. Some of the benefits of baby-led weaning include:
- Babies are encouraged to join in during mealtime and have the independence to feed themselves.
- They can decide how much they actually want to eat and how fast. This avoids an unhealthy idea about portion size.
- They can explore new tastes and textures on their own terms.
- They will still rely on breastmilk or formula as they main source of nutrition.
Baby-led weaning does not mean you need to stop breastfeeding. The weaning part of the name only means the introduction to solids, and not the weaning of breastmilk. Your baby will still rely on milk as their main source of nutrition until after a year of age. The main purpose of baby-led weaning is to help your baby develop the skills needed for self-feeding, as well as letting them independently explore the taste and texture of many different foods. They can decide for themselves how much they want to eat and what type of foods they enjoy, instead of being spoon fed one type of food at each meal.
Some moms worry about their baby choking on pieces of food, but there is a big difference between choking and gagging. Your baby will more often gag, and it’s a pretty obvious movement, they are quite equipped to handle gagging on their own and it is actually a way for them to learn how to eat.
It will take some time to get used to, but baby-led weaning is also a lot easier on moms as well. You don’t have to rely on store bought purees and you don’t have to worry about making your own either. If suitable, you can just give your baby bits and pieces of your breakfast, lunch or dinner. Why not consider changing your meals to accommodate for this while it lasts, that way you won’t have to cook different meals.
It is so important to give your baby the tools and skills needed to be independent. Baby-led weaning is one of the easiest and earliest ways to encourage independence in your child, and it makes it a whole lot easier on you as well.