Baby-Led Weaning Tipsby Emma Longden
How you feed your baby is such a personal choice, so this post is in no way trying to promote one approach over another. I have tried both homemade purees and shop-bought pouches with my older children, but when it came to Benjamin, I decided I wanted to try Baby-led weaning, as it sounded so much simpler, and a lot less hassle.
The first thing I would say is, expect a lot of mess. Before I started baby-led weaning, I thought purees and pouches were messy. Oh boy, baby-led is a whole different story.
If you aren’t sure what the baby-led weaning approach involves, it is quite simply allowing the baby to feed themselves. This is just as precarious as it sounds, and the floor did get more food than Benjamin to begin with, but, after a while, he got the hang of feeding himself, and he managed to find his mouth.
From then on, baby-led weaning was a total hit with Benjamin, and with me. Obviously it goes without saying, you can’t leave the baby alone to feed themselves, you still need to be there for mealtimes, and you need to do a bit of preparation when it comes to certain food items such as sausages, grapes, cherry tomatoes and apples, to name a few.
The risk of choking is greater with baby-led weaning, and it is advisable to attend a baby first aid course, if you haven’t already done so. There is a difference between choking and gagging, which is completely normal and to be expected when babies are first learning how to swallow their food, knowing the signs of both is invaluable when baby-led weaning.
So, my top tips if you are considering the baby-led weaning approach?
Cover the floor and any nearby surfaces with a wipe-clean covering or take mealtimes outside if the weather allows it, to minimise the mess.
Strip baby down to just a nappy, or invest in some coverall style bibs to protect clothing.
Attend a baby first aid session, and research choking and gagging, so you know what to look out for and are prepared.
Meal Plan in Advance
Take a look online for meal ideas. Baby led-weaning encourages you to eat together with your baby, to get them used to mealtimes, and it is great for them to have the same food as you, but there are a few foods to avoid, or to prepare a little differently.
Don’t Mix Methods
It isn’t advisable to mix baby-led weaning with the more traditional forms of weaning, as this can confuse the baby and could lead to a higher risk of choking. Although it is tempting to feed messier foods such as yoghurts to your baby, it is good to let them get to grips with these foods, so that they can enjoy the texture and taste and get a feel for using a spoon.
There are plenty of online forums and websites you can turn to for ideas, but if there is a local group, I would advise attending for advice and support.
If you are considering trying the baby-led weaning approach, I would definitely recommend it. It is lovely to watch your baby discover food, and to learn how to feed themselves. I found it so convenient, especially when out and about, and during meals out, but every parent and every baby are different. Do what works for you and your family, and always seek advice from healthcare professionals if you are unsure of what to do.