Should I try baby led weaning?

What’s baby led weaning all about and should I try it?  Advocates of the baby led approach to weaning say it’s easier.  Easier for those who want to prepare their baby’s food from scratch, but don’t want to fuss about with purees and mashing up foods.  There’s also no spoon feeding involved, so you can pretty much leave her to it (while keeping a watchful eye).  It’s not for those adverse to a little mess.

How does it work?

Essentially, you need to set your baby up somewhere she can access the food easily and feed herself. Start with foods that are easy to grab maybe some steamed broccoli or carrots cut into batons. Nothing too small that she might choke on or too hard that she won’t be able to break down.  Annabel Karmel has some nice ideas on her site you could try out  You might like to set up a sheet underneath her chair, as there will likely be mess and a lot of it!

Things to think about?

Some parents report hearing some gag noises in baby led weaning, which might be concerning.  While this might just be a reflex it’s important to keep a close eye on your child, and not give her any food which is small enough that it might get lodged in her throat.

What’s the science on weaning?

Up until the age of six months, breastmilk or formula provides all of the nutrition a baby needs.  From six months onwards, solids should be introduced.  The most common first food, is infant rice. At six months of age, most infants can use their top lip to clear a spoon and at eight months are able to chew and swallow food with lumps.  While baby led weaning encourages the exploration of varieties in texture and potentially flavour, there is no evidence that it is related to later diet choices. However, babies who have experienced a wide variety of tastes, are more accepting of them later. Baby led weaning allows a child to self direct her eating.  While this suggests that she may be less likely to take more than she needs, there is no evidence that spoon fed babies overeat.  For more information on the limited research on baby led weaning you can access this article by Sue Reeves at Roehampton University.


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