At first, baby-led weaning may sound a scary concept. No easy to swallow purees? Going straight from milk feeds to solids? Let a baby be in charge of his own meals? Sounds crazy doesn’t it? But speak to parents who’ve gone down the BLW route and you begin to see the many benefits.
Babies who are allowed to choose what they put into their own mouths, rather than being spoon fed, are often far more likely to be adventurous eaters, happily exploring a wide variety of textures and flavours. Mealtimes are just an extension of playful discovery, rather than the battleground they can become when you’re trying to persuade your baby to eat the delicious purees you’ve been slaving over all morning. Which is another huge bonus of BLW – minimal food preparation. Just give your baby some of the fruit, vegetables or pasta you’re serving the rest of the family and allow them to try the food at their own pace. This also means babies can easily join in regular family mealtimes, which helps them view eating as a fun, social activity.
If you’re keen to try baby-led weaning, you’ll need to wait until your baby is sitting up (usually around 6 months old). This minimises any risk of choking, although it’s always advisable to keep a close eye on any feeding baby.
Then, instead of feeding your baby specialized mashed or pureed foods with a spoon, offer your baby a selection of finger foods, alongside their regular
milk feeds. As young babies can only grasp things in their fists, the food you offer them will need to fit their grip.
Good choices of finger food might include:
– buttered toast fingers
– home made vegetable or potato chips (slightly cooled)
– Cooked broccoli and cauliflower florets
– Lightly steamed carrot sticks
– Slices of cheese
– Cooked penne pasta or spaghetti
– Rice cakes
– Baby rusks (choose a low sugar recipe though as some rusks are sweeter than a chocolate biscuit).
If you’re reluctant to go straight in the deep end, try a Fresh Food Feeder initially (see my earlier blog post) to get your baby interested in different flavours and progress to finger foods once they get the hang of it.
For more advice on baby-led-weaning, see the pdf leaflet produced by health visitor Gill Rapley – http://baby-led.rhgdsrv.co.uk/pdf/blwleaflet.pdf