What is Baby-Led Weaning?
It’s become ‘common understanding’, in most western countries anyway, that there’s a certain path you must follow to introduce solids to your baby. Somewhere between 4 and 6 months (though for medical reasons, some people wait longer) you introduce cereals to your baby, followed by a set period of purees, mashed foods, then finger foods. I thought this was the only way to do it, at least until I was pregnant and came across baby-led weaning.
Baby-led weaning, or baby-led solids, is simply an alternate way of introducing solids to your baby’s diet. It involves the baby becoming part of family meal times – sitting with the family and sharing the family food. Some parents do it by offering food from their own plate, while others put some of the food the family is eating on a plate or a tray for the baby to chose from.
Because it is baby led, the baby chooses what they want to ‘eat’ or not eat. In the early days, this is more exploration or play – they need to work out how food, and their mouths, work, so they still get almost all their food from milk. But as they are being introduced to a wide range of food – and they see their family eating it – they are likely to eat a wide range of food from a young age.
Why are we doing Baby-Led weaning?
When I came across Baby-led weaning, I became kind of excited. This seemed perfect for us:
- No preparing purees, mashes or special food different to us. This so appeals to the lazy side of me
- Creating the idea of a family table right from the start. Squirm eats with us, at the same time as us, from the beginning
- Being able to introduce a wide range of food early. I can be a bit picky in my eating, so I’d like Squirm to be introduced to lots of foods
- Letting Squirm control his food from the start.
What do we need for Baby-led Weaning
- A way for the baby to sit up at the table – either in a high chair or on the parents lap
- A cleanable surface. Baby-led weaning can be messy to start with, though that improves with a bit of time.
- Some modifications to food. Egg must be well cooked and it’s a good idea to avoid honey until the baby reaches 12 months. Small nuts and other things which may cause choking need to be avoided or modified. To start with, it’s easier to cut food into easy to hold shapes. And it’s best to avoid a lot of salt and sugar.
- And understanding of the difference between gagging and choking.
We read the Gill Rapley books – Baby Led Weaning and the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook. The first one gives a good in depth look at Baby-led weaning, while the second one gives an overview and then some good recipes to try out (if you want to buy one, I’d suggest the cook book. We’ve tried some of the recipes and they’re great). You don’t need to read either book, but they do give some great background and information.
So we’ve got a few more weeks to go until we start and we’re just beginning to get ourselves organised. Squirm sits with us for most meals and enjoys the social aspect of dinner already. We still need to buy a mat to go under his chair, but we’ve been trying out a range of different recipes which we’ve really enjoyed. And we’ll be sure to share the adventure with you.
What was the hardest part about introducing solids with your child? What were the funniest bits?