As much as traditional puree based weaning works, baby led weaning is a great alternative and one that weans a baby at his or her own pace. I weaned both of my children following baby led weaning methods and we found it such a rewarding and fun process so I’ve put together a few things you should know if you’re thinking of embarking on baby led weaning with your child.
It’s messy – Weaning is messy whichever way you do it, but with baby led weaning the baby feeds themselves from the start so you have mess right from the start too. But, if you invest in some coverall bibs, an easy to clean moulded plastic highchair and a big plastic mat for the floor then you will be fine.
Food is fun…until they’re one – It really doesn’t matter how much your baby eats until they’re a year old as up to that point they get everything they need from the milk they drink. So, if you baby doesn’t eat anything solid for a few month whilst they’re learning to handle and physically eat food, don’t worry. By the time they are one they will be a pro at eating!
Baby led weaning isn’t dangerous – A baby eating solid food from the start isn’t dangerous at all as long as you make sure you let them feed themselves. Never put anything in your child’s mouth – they need to be in full control, holding the food themselves. Make sure anything that could pose a real choking hazard is cut up or squashed – cherry tomatoes, blueberries, grapes etc and never give whole nuts. Also, never leave your baby alone with food.
Gagging is completely natural – A baby will often gag whilst learning to eat. Make sure you know the difference between gagging and choking and when they’re gagging give them a chance to fix the situation themselves before jumping in to help. I often had to sit on my hands for a few seconds by which time they were fine.
Avoid honey – It’s advised that honey isn’t given until after 12 months due to a risk of botulism and most of the other guidance is similar to your diet when pregnant – no shellfish, only well cooked eggs and make sure all meat is cooked all the way through.
They can eat what you eat – With baby led weaning you can give a baby part of your meal from the start. They can eat curries, pasta, bolognese, any meal. It gets them used to family meal times, let’s them try many flavours and gets them used to actually food right from the start.
Puree isn’t bad – Just because you’re doing baby led weaning, it doesn’t mean that purees and other things linked to traditional weaning are bad. Pouches of food are fantastic when a baby can hold and suck it themselves and you can even load spoons for your baby before handing it to them. This lets them enjoy purees and yogurts whilst learning to use cutlery too.
It’s so much fun – Baby led weaning is one of the most fun adventures we have been on since becoming parents. Watching the children make their new taste faces, seeing them master their pincer grip and guiding them from not being able to eat by themselves through to being children who can eat with a knife and fork. The whole journey has been so much fun and so rewarding.
So if you are starting baby led weaning, take not of these tips but most importantly – embrace the mess and have fun!