Baby led weaning used to be a unique approach to starting your little one on solid foods, but it’s now becoming very popular with many parents. Here’s a general guide if you’re thinking of taking this approach to weaning.
As an alternative to purees and mashed food when a baby starts on solids, baby led weaning is a way of introducing finger foods and letting your little one eat the foods they want to. It also allows babies to learn how to chew first, then swallow. They can also choose how much they put into their mouths.
The same as other weaning methods, the time to stat baby led weaning really depends on the individual child. Most babies are ready to start on solid foods by six months, at which point they are likely to be able to sit up by themselves and grab and hold onto objects.
To start with, foods of different colours and textures will help your little one to be interested in what you’ve served up. A mixture of savoury and sweet things – such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, avocado, mango chunks, cucumber, carrots, and bread are a good place to start.
The best thing to do is to start slowly. Just place one or two pieces in front of your child at mealtimes so you don’t overwhelm them with too many choices. And forget plates or bowls – the best thing to do is just place the food on the table or tray of your highchair. Let your little one play with the food you’ve offered, explore its texture and find its way into their mouth.
According to some research, baby led weaning can help babies to become more familiar with textures and potentially develop more varied and healthy food preferences. Some also believe that babies that eat a variety of food can be less likely to have intolerances in later life (although there are no firm findings to support this theory). It can also help with hand-eye coordination skills and learning how to chew, which can aid digestion.