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So, you’ve waited the recommended 6 months before offering food to your little one and now you’re ready to start solid foods and at first you’re thinking I’ll do purees, but then you come across the term “baby led weaning”. Your first thought is ….what in the world is this? That was my first thought, too. Skibbles was about two months old and I was reading through some threads in some local Facebook groups I’m in and they were talking about it. I was intrigued to say the least and after reading the Baby Led Weaning Book, I knew it was the right decision for us.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
First — let me clarify what it is NOT. It is not the process of weaning your baby off breastmilk (or formula). The term weaning simply refers to the fact that as children start to eat more solids, they will naturally wean from breastmilk. Some people prefer to call the process Baby Led Solids. While everyone that does baby led weaning may do things a little differently, the most basic, broken down version is you simply let babies eat real chunks of food from the start. No spoon feeding, no cereals, no purees. Self-feeding from the very start! For the first few weeks (sometimes months), they may not eat much, and this is not meant to replace breastmilk or formula, but as a way to start the introduction of foods.
Why Would I want to Do Baby Led Weaning?
For starters – It simplifies your life by saving you time AND money! There’s no more making purees, buying special jarred food, or taking time out to helicopter food by the spoonful into your baby’s mouth. You actually get to enjoy sitting down and eating with your child. But it’s also healthier for your baby. Since you don’t have to buy jarred food and you are giving your baby whole foods, there’s no chemicals or preservatives added. Babies are allowed to participate in family meals from the very beginning and experiment at their own pace.
What are some good first foods and what foods should be avoided?
Foods cut into chunks or large strips are easiest for baby to try to grasp in the initial weeks. Lightly steamed vegetables and raw fruits that can be cut into large pieces to help practice pincer grasp are the best. Avocados, sweet potatoes, mangoes, carrots, eggplant, zucchini, and bananas are just a few ideas.
As far as what should be avoided — there’s not much. If there is a family history of a particular allergen, it’s best to introduce that under caution; otherwise the only food that should not be given to a child under one is honey, due to the risk of botulism. You do want to try to keep the food as natural as possible. Avoid foods high in sugar and salt and foods like grapes and cherry tomatoes should be cut in half length wise. We also personally limited grains after researching open gut and babies inability to properly digest them.
Isn’t my baby more likely to choke?
No! Actually, research shows that it’s actually less likely for a baby to choke when doing baby led weaning vs spoon feeding. Why? Because spoon fed babies suck lumps straight to the back of their throat, past the gag reflux, increasing their likelihood of choking. Gagging, on the other hand, does happen occasionally with baby led weaning; however, a baby’s gag reflex is located much farther forward than an adult and actually teaches then how to manage food safely.
Last bits of advice
- Babies should be able to sit up unassisted and move things from their hand to their mouth before introducing any foods
- Baby led weaning children show less pickiness as toddlers and older children
- Baby led weaning teaches children to control their food intake themselves
- Offer food only after breastmilk or formula, never before. Baby led weaning is about learning, not about nutrition in the beginning
Disclaimer: Information contained in this post is meant for educational and/or informational purposes only. We encourage all readers to do their own research and consult with their pediatrician before the introduction of foods for their children.