Our Doctors office led a great class on Baby led weaning that we are mostly following. The gist of it is allowing babies (starting around 6 months) to feed themselves by giving them foods that you are eating (with some exceptions). This allows babies to explore and play with their food while experiencing a variety of different foods. Because solids are not needed until babies are one, I’m not so worried about her eating enough (source).
When I first heard about Baby Led Weaning I was really confused how a baby so small could eat lots of normal foods. So if you are reading this confused, please continue reading! I took a class, talked to several friends who do it, and read a lot on it to understand more about it. My good friend, Kim’s daughter did it and this girl eats ANYTHING and loves her veggies and fruit! I hope she rubs off on her good bud Maymay.
There are several pros to this- 1. The baby learns to feed themselves and eats when you eat.
2. You don’t spend time puree or buying baby food because they eat what you eat! (Exceptions do apply!)
3. They develop their fine motor skills and hand eye coordination.
4. It forces you to always eat a veggie or fruit so you can have some for the baby! 🙂
5. The baby learns to chew their food early on. When a baby is 6 months old their gag reflux is further up front (verses when you are an adult and its back further). So as protection, they would gag if they get too big of a piece. However, I must be honest and say it is still scary to hear her gag (which has happened twice). 😦
6. The baby determines how much to eat (verses the adult). A recent article published in the British Medical Journal came to this conclusion: “Weaning style impacts on food preferences and health in early childhood. Our results suggest that infants weaned through the baby-led approach learn to regulate their food intake in a manner, which leads to a lower BMI and a preference for healthy foods like carbohydrates. This has implications for combating the well-documented rise of obesity in contemporary societies.”
7. Lastly, they eat when you eat. You can all sit down as a family to eat without having to spoon feed the child before or after your meal. (We are still working on this one!)
I am happy to report Malayna LOVES solids (so far). I know there is still time for her to be a picky eater as she grows older, but right now she has enjoyed everything we have given her. I think her favorite so far has been broccoli and avocado. So far Malayna has tried broccoli, avocado, peas, sweet potato, carrots, bananas, beets, peaches, mango, and applesauce. I cook all the veggies down until soft. She didn’t seem to be a big fan of beets which is funny because I just started to eat them recently, so perhaps shes not used to the taste.
I don’t think shes eating that much (although her diapers prove me otherwise), but then again I am not used to “baby portions.” She seems to get full fairly easily, but perhaps that normal for a tinnny baby belly.
I have found several difficulties with Baby Led Weaning though.
1. It is extremely messy. I am talking all over her face, neck, and high chair. So you will spend a lot of time cleaning up!
2. If they were to have an allergy it would be hard to pinpoint what exactly they are allergic to. However, this is mostly just a concern for families with a history of food allergies.
3. Some foods they can’t eat because of the skin so we still puree it (such as peas). I also still use a spoon for certain foods….such as sweet potato (unless you do chunks), applesauce or oatmeal.
4. Malayna can eat broccoli the best because it is big and little chunks easily fall off, but slippery foods like peaches, avocado, etc. are hard for her to put in her mouth so I still end up feeding it to her. Some parents roll them in puffs, but to me that’s just another added step. In a few months she can eat more foods such as meat, grains, pasta, etc.
Please note always ask your Doctor first before doing anything. I am a first time momma/newbie and by NO means anywhere near an expert. So far this has worked well for her and I am curious for those who have done Baby Led Weaning how you solve my issues I have been having. I have nothing against purees, in fact I think I am going to start pureeing some foods for days when I don’t want to deal with the mess. 🙂 I just know pureeing tends to take a while to do. I know we can buy food too, but we are trying to save money where we can.
Helpful posts on baby led weaning: