Weaning Babies – Baby led weaning

Baby led weaning is ideal for mums who don’t want to puree, mash or stew every meal they give baby. It means letting your baby feed himself with finger foods. Here is how to start!

Weaning babies
  1. Is baby led weaning for me?
  2. What is baby led weaning?
  3. Not for everyone
  4. When to start baby led weaning?
  5. Finger food suggestions
  6. Benefits of baby led weaning
  7. Considerations
  8. Watch top 5 baby led weaning videos

1. Is baby led weaning for me?

  • Do you find the prospect of purées, ice cube trays, potato mashers, weaning spoons and baby rice daunting?
  • Do you like the idea of including baby in family meal times?
  • Can your baby sit up straight and grasp things?

If you answer yes to any of the above questions consider Baby Led Weaning (BLW) as an alternative to the purée and mash method of weaning babies.

2. What is baby-led weaning (BLW)?

Baby-led weaning means letting your baby feed himself. You might find that you have already started baby led weaning without actually thinking about it, as its very common for babies to reach out a grab a bit of big brother or sister’s banana!

You don’t need special bowls or plates for baby led weaning, just put the chunks of food (think of the shape and size of a chip) in front of him on his high chair tray or table.

A key principle of baby led weaning is that your baby ‘self feeds’ and decides what he wants to eat. This allows your baby to gain some independence, experiment and play.

3. Not for everyone

Many mums come to baby led weaning out of frustration with the conventional puree weaning method. Others enjoy including baby in family meal times. However some mums find they don’t have the patience for ‘self-feeding’ and find they are tempted to feed baby with a spoon to make sure they get a solid meal.

Mums with a family history of allergies or food intolerance will tread more carefully and speak to their health visitor before trying baby led weaning.

4. When do I start baby led weaning

Typically, babies are ready to start experimenting with  solid food when they are around 6 months. If your baby was born premature or has any medical condition discuss weaning with your health visitor first.

The best time to start baby led weaning is your normal family meal times. When you are eating let your baby join in by giving him some finger food. At first he will only be able to grasp his food. As he gets older he will graduate to a pincer grip with his fingers.

5. Finger foods to start baby led weaning

Suggestions for weaning babies on finger foods:

  • chunk of soft pear
  • slice of banana
  • chunks of pineapple
  • steamed apple chunks
  • mango
  • cooked carrot stick
  • small head of broccoli
  • toast chopped into fingers or squares
  • fingers of cucumber (great for teething babies)
  • cooked potato
  • avocado chunks (lovely on toast with freshly squeezed lemon)

When you start baby led weaning your baby will still be on breast or formula milk. Initially baby will suck and play with the food so it is important that you continue to give him breast milk or formula milk between meals.

6. Benefits of baby led weaning

  • Allows baby to explore food, tastes and textures
  • Encourages family meal times rather than separate feeding times
  • Reduces mums anxiety when starting solids
  • Includes a wide variety of foods from a young age
  • Introduces chunks and lumps from an early age (babies who are given lumpy food after 10 months are more likely to reject lumpy food)
  • Reduces mums time spent making purees

Download the [download id=”20″ format=”1″] guidelines for more information.

7. Baby led weaning considerations

  • Some mums find baby led weaning to be very messy, but the weaning process itself is messy, especially if baby gets hold of the plate of puree!
  • The official weaning guidelines recommend well-mashed or puréed foods when you start solids as well as finger food
  • Dieticians recommend that you give your baby a variety of textures – sloppy, chunks, lumps as well as finger foods.
  • If your baby can sit upright, then they should be able to control the amount they eat which reduces the risk of choking. Babies should never be left alone when eating.

Sources:

Gill Raley, Baby-led Weaning: The fuss-free way to introduce solid foods

Photograph: The Pink Peppercorn @ Flickr

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