What is baby led weaning*?
Essentially baby led weaning is just the process of allowing your child to feed themselves at around 6 months old. Now by this we don’t mean just placing you baby in front of the cupboard and letting them go for gold! Instead baby led weaning involves handing them some age appropriate food that is in bite sized chunks just perfect for little mouths. If they like it – they eat it.
How do you know when you baby is ready to take the lead?
- They can sit up with less help
- The child can pick up food and bring it to their mouth
- They are showing signs of being interested in your food
- Their gag reflex has matured
So what does this mean for you as a parent?
No messing around with mush! skipping the spoon (we can hear your disappointed sigh at not being able to be a train conductor of the “chew chew” express), and ditching the normal feeding approach. You just do the cooking, the cutting, the slicing & dicing and they learn to do the munching&lunching.
Why baby led weaning? The pros
- Increased hand eye coordination at an early age
- They control what they eat – making them more aware of how hungry/ full they are
- Less overeating
Why not baby led weaning? The against
- It’s harder to ensure they get enough iron
- They could be more likely to choke on food
- They may not get enough food to grow well
So, what if they don’t eat it?
While the baby does lead, the parent follows (get used to this now, as you’ll be doing this a lot when they are toddlers!). You are now the guide, the person to direct them in their eating (but not forcefully with a spoon etc as that is beside the point). So during this time you as parents can pay close attention to cues and have fun experimenting. Expect mess, this is something you are not going to escape – however getting a highchair that is easy to clean my help… (have you met the phil&teds poppy). You may experience smooshing, throwing or general mess but this is all part of the joys of parenting right? The only thing we can stress is that supervision is key!
So get munchin’ & lunchin’ !
*Weaning does mean a few different things to you lot. In Australia, New Zealand and the United states you are probably thinking we mean stopping breastfeeding or bottle feeding! But we definitely don’t! We more mean like what the English think, merely adding solid foods into a baby’s diet but not fully replacing breastfeeding.