In my earlier post here I write about my experiences with baby led weaning. I don’t claim to be an expert but having used this method of weaning twice I have become confident using it. So I decided to collate this information into a little guide on Baby Led Weaning.
When to start : When I weaned my middle baby using Baby Led Weaning the government guidelines on weaning advised waiting until the baby is six months before starting solid foods.
The guidelines have changed recently but I think the best thing to do is watch your baby for signs that they are ready to explore solid food. I say explore because I believe that is what babies should be doing when they begin solids. For me weaning is not a way to cram food into baby to help them sleep through the night. I believe baby will reach these milestones when they (not us) are ready.
So things to look out for which indicate baby is ready include
1. Being able to sit unaided.
2. An interest in food.
3.The ability to pick up food and put it in their mouth.
It is that simple, when baby can sit up grab food and begin to chew it, they are ready.
What to feed:
In most cases these milestones are reached around six months of age. If this is the case you can really start giving baby whatever you are eating (with the exception of honey). However in reality I wouldn’t give my baby anything salted or sweetened with sugar until age one, and after that in carefully moderated amounts.
Ideas for first foods : Cut up vegetables (carrot, avocado, broccoli,parsnip, sweet potato) . Cut up fruit (banana, apple, peach, orange segments). Cut up your fruit and veg so that baby can pick it up in there fist and still have some poking out to chew on.
Toast fingers, home made pizza, pasta, noodles, cheese, home made fish fingers, cracker biscuits. If you are feeling brave you can give messier foods such as mash potato , porridge, dahl, yoghurt, rice but be warned it will be messy. Alternatively fill a spoon with something and hand spoon to baby, it will still probably be messy.
Later once baby has pincer grip they will have fun picking up and eating smaller foods such as peas, raisons, halved grapes and halved cherry tomatoes (important to halve to prevent choking).
Choking is probably the biggest thing that most parents worry about when it comes to trying Baby Led Weaning. In reality as a babies gag reflex is much further forward in the mouth, it’s the ideal time to learn to cope with handling food. If baby chokes I would give them a short time to sort the food out in their mouth but don’t hesitate to help them with your fingers or a pat on the back. They will quickly learn how to avoid choking. Obviously never leave a baby unsupervised whilst eating.
Mess, Baby Led Weaning is messy , theirs no way round it. If you can let go of mess fear for now it will be all for the better. Tense mealtimes are no fun for anyone. Remember floors and babies can be cleaned and the messy phase is so short on the scale of things. Also the bibs with a catcher are very handy, my baby digs out food from her bib regularly at the end of the meal if she’s still hungry.
Taking Baby Led Weaning on the road. Obviously most restaurants / inlaws don’t take too kindly to huge amounts of food on the floor/table/walls. Its a good idea to take reasonably contained foods with you (think veggie sticks but skip the humous until baby is older). Also I am not to puritanical when out with baby Wonder Girl and will spoon feed her other foods to make life easier.
So thats it, it really is that simple. Throw out your blender (well don’t because um soup and smoothies), ditch your tiny pots of lovingly cooked mush, and enjoy the freedom of Baby Led Weaning. I think putting baby in control of their eating makes as much sense as letting them figure out for themselves how to crawl, walk etc.
We did baby led weaning with my little girl (now 17 months) and we loved it! Maybe I’m just lazy but the fact that she could eat the same as us and not have to make loads of purees really appealed to me. Plus she has got to try so many different foods, she is now at the age where she is a bit suspicious of things she hasn’t seen before, but because she has already had such a variety of foods it’s not really a problem. It just seems like common sense to me, we let babies sit up, crawl, talk and walk and their own pace so why shouldn’t they discover food the same way?
Grate strategies. I’ve just had my 6th baby, and even though I’ve always done this with my kiddos (oldest is almost 15), I didn’t know until baby #4 that this was a “method” with a name and following – lol. I just knew that my mommy acquaintances nearly fainted when I would hand a wedge of fruit, veggie, or meat to my little ones rather than carefully pureed something or another bland food.