Whilst most of us of heard of the term ‘baby led weaning’, knowing exactly what is involved with this commonly used expression can be confusing and ambiguous. So what is baby led weaning?
Baby led weaning essentially means letting your baby feed himself. Whilst the thought of your tiny, helpless baby feeding himself might seem impossible right now, there are some distinct advantages of encouraging baby led weaning. If you are thinking about letting you baby be more ‘proactive’ in his weaning, the following advice might help.
Involve your baby into family eating habits
Babies love to copy, especially older siblings. A good way to encourage your baby to feed himself is by sitting him up at the table with the rest of the family at mealtimes, so that he can copy and get used to actively joining in the family meal.
Knowing what food to start with
The easiest foods for babies to pick up and gnarl on are foods that are long and thin in shape, similar to a chip. Your baby may just play with the finger food at first and suck it, encourage him to do so, as this is all part of the process of experimenting with food, learning to eat and trying different tastes and textures. Make sure that you continue to breastfeed or formula feed your baby in between meals to ensure that he is receiving enough calories. Gradually decrease the number of milk feeds as he eats more solids.
The advantage of baby led weaning
Parents who practise baby led weaning generally find that their baby is more likely to eat a more diverse range of food from an early age as opposed to starting the weaning process with pureed foods.
The disadvantage of baby led weaning
In a word ‘mess’! Baby led weaning, as you can imagine, is a very messy business. Food often ends up all over the floor rather than in your baby’s tummy! Finger food can also be limiting compared to pureed food.
The best advice is to give your baby a mixture of pureed food which contains high levels of iron and healthy finger foods such as carrot and celery sticks, rice cakes and toast ‘soldiers’, so that he is getting the best of both worlds.