Baby Led Weaning

The first time you offer solid foods to your baby is both exciting and nerve wracking. Most doctors say anytime after six months is the right time to start foods other than formula and breastmilk. In terms of baby led weaning, that is the perfect time. At six months, your baby is capable of feeding herself and making choices to what she wants. This method lets parents skip those purees and enjoy a simpler way of sharing solids with their babies.

baby led weaning

What is Baby Led Weaning

Baby led weaning is precisely how it sounds: you allow your baby to lead the process of weaning to, or adding in, solid foods. This means that she is going to signal when she is ready for food. As a parent, there is no extra work making purees, freezing them in ice cube trays, or purchasing special foods. Your baby is going to eat the same foods that you do.

How Baby Led Weaning Works

Once you are ready to start the weaning process, you look for signs that your baby is ready. The most obvious is that he starts to grab food off your plate. You can either continue sharing your food or cut solids into smaller pieces on his own plate. This allows him to grab and eat whatever he wants. Many parents don’t do baby led weaning because they are afraid of their baby choking. This is a natural reflex, however, that babies learn from.

There are a number of tips to utilize when practicing baby led weaning as well. Most of these come from experience and learning how to make the process easier. If you decide to try to this method, consider

  • Buying a plastic high chair that fits in your shower. Baby led weaning can become extremely messy and this makes hosing it off much easier.
  • Starting with finger or coin sized foods that are simple to grip. As your baby develops, move to smaller sizes that help develop pincer skills.
  • Avoiding plates and bowls. Likely, your baby will use the dishes to throw food across the room, onto the ceiling, or the dog.
  • Avoiding putting food to your baby’s mouth. This is the opposite of baby led weaning and likely will make him stay away from the food.
  • Remembering that it is for fun before one. This means that any food before one is not nutritionally necessary because your baby should still get the bulk of nutrients from breastmilk or formula.
  • Making it easy for yourself. Don’t make special meals for your baby, let him eat what you are eating.

There has been some research done on baby led weaning. One of the most fascinating results found is that parents who used this method has less picky eaters than those who pureed. This is because if a baby eats only purees, he gets used to food having that particular texture. Suddenly, when he is introduced to solids there are texture and sensitivity issues. So if your baby is ready to start solid foods, consider baby led weaning. Not only will you save yourself a lot of preparation time, you will have an easier time getting your children to eat when older, too.