Baby-Led Weaning is a method of allowing the baby to self-feed on her own. Get all your doubts cleared about how, when, and what to feed your baby while following this baby-led weaning approach.
Baby Led Weaning
‘A research shows that the babies who are allowed to self feed by the baby-led weaning approach from the start have happier meal times in the later days than the traditionally fed babies.’
This is what made me want to try this approach. Who doesn’t want a fuss-free mealtime?
All I thought was – if this is so good for my baby, why should I miss. Eventually, I gave it a shot, and guess what! We really are very happy with our decision.
Wondering what is this and how do I get started?
Here is a detailed explanation on most of your questions like ‘What is Baby-Led Weaning?’, ‘How do I start Baby-Led Weaning?’, ‘Is it really worth it?’ And so on..
What is Baby-Led Weaning?
In simple words, baby led weaning is allowing the baby to take control over what and how much she eats.
Here, the babies are provided with the appropriate food item – usually finger foods – in a plate or a bowl from which they pick it by themself and eat at their own pace. They are even encouraged to sit along with the family during mealtimes.
Imagine… You never ever have to show those aeroplane tricks or dance for your baby to take one spoon of food. Your family dinner table will be far more peaceful with your baby having her own chair and having fun with the food.
Oh Yes! It would be fuss-free. Not mess-free though. (Let’s save that topic for later)
Why Baby-Led Weaning?
Even wondered why baby-led weaning has become the buzz word among new mothers?
Well, here are a few reasons why baby led weaning is worth following.
Healthier food habits
By self-feeding, the baby has complete control over her appetite. They will learn to understand how much their body wants. This avoids developing the habit of overeating.
As a result, self-fed babies will be less prone to health issues like obesity due to unhealthy eating habits.
Good connection with food
Some kids who are force-fed, literally, hate foods. But, when the kids are let to explore, play, feel food, they will develop a connection towards food and will await for mealtimes.
Also, the baby who is given the opportunity to explore various kinds of food items will make improved food choices later in their life.
By encouraging baby-led weaning, you indicate that you really trust them to handle things on their own. You include them in family dinner as an equal.
When they feel trusted and appreciated, they become emotionally connected with you more than before.
When introduced in the early stages, babies learn to chew before swallowing food. Chewing is the most important part of the eating process.
Purees don’t give them the chance to chew but finger food does. So, they master a bigger lesson of healthier eating – chewing – earlier in their life.
How many of us eat while watching television and sometimes forget what we actually ate?
That is the major reason for overeating. Let’s not teach that to our babies.
Let them know, touch, feel, and explore what they eat.
Develops fine motor skills
You don’t have to find a separate activity for encouraging pincer grasp or developing hand-eye coordination for your little one. By self-feeding, they learn all that by themself. They learn to grasp food, hold it, take it to their mouth, chew it and what not!
What age do you start Baby Led Weaning?
You can start baby led weaning right from the first day of starting solids – that is after completion of 180 days and your baby shows all the readiness signs of starting solids.
Not sure when and how to start introducing solids? Check out this post for all the details.
Having a baby who is already on solids? Don’t worry, you still can shift to baby led weaning process. It may be quite a difficult task for a few days, but then you will be thankful you made this choice.
How to start baby led weaning?
So, are you ready to get started with training your kids to self-feed?
Here are a few things to keep in mind while starting solids by baby-led weaning approach.
- Have a place for your baby to sit upright – preferably a high chair or booster chair. You can even have your baby seated on your lap.
- Give them the appropriate food. Preferably finger foods (Consistency: You should be able to mash it between your thumb and forefinger). For babies who have master handling spoons, you can provide foods in bowl with a spoon.
- Give new foods only in the morning.
- Offer food 30 minutes after breastfeeding or an hour after formula feeding.
- Trust your baby’s cues and plan meal times according to that. It’s not wise to offer food while they are sleepy or extremely hungry.
- Never ever force feed. If they seem to get uninterested or turn their head indicating a NO, just let them be. You can try after an hour or so.
- Make yourself ready to stick with the process. There may be days when your baby wouldn’t even want a single piece of food and goes fully on milk. These will be testing times when you will be tempted to force feed. But try to refrain from it. Because it may be confusing for the baby to cope up when you switch between self-feeding and spoon-feeding VERY OFTEN.
- No Distraction Feeding. It may just break the sole purpose of mindful eating.
- Accept the Mess. Yes, there will be a lot of foods scattered over the floor, on the baby, and everywhere. But don’t worry. Give them time to learn and they will master to eat without mess sooner than you think.
- Reduce your expectations. When you thing, your baby is not eating sufficient quantity of food. Just rethink what according to you is the ‘sufficient quantity’? Trust them they know their appetite well.
Types of food for baby led weaning
Any vegetables, fruits, or pancakes, which is soft and easy for them to chew and eat, is perfect for baby led weaning.
Size: Cut foods into finger sizes pieces that are easy to hold for babies.
Consistency: Soft enough to get mashed between your thumb and forefinger. Hard enough for the babies to pick it up and take to their mouth.
Foods to be avoided
- No honey in any form before one year of age as it has risks of infant botulism.
- No raw or uncooked eggs and pulses.
- Never give hard or large chunks of food like raw carrot, nuts or full uncut grapes. These couldn’t be mashed by baby’s gums and may result in choking hazard.
Know more about Choking & Gagging here.
Summing it up...
On the whole, baby led weaning is the best way you can help your kid develop mindful eating habits.
When something is easy and healthy for you, your baby and your entire family, why would you want to miss it?
Still having any queries? Feel free to shoot your question in the comments.