All Women's Talk

Everything New Parents Should Know about Baby Led Weaning ...

By Chelsie

Baby led weaning is an approach to wean babies onto solid food that was developed by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett, who co-wrote the book, “Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods.” The baby led weaning approach encourages babies to feed themselves solid food instead of being spoon fed pureed food. Clearly, this approach is vastly different from the traditional way of weaning babies. However, it is gaining interest and many parents are trying baby led weaning, which is why it is worth exploring this different technique of weaning.

1 Begin at the Right Age

It is generally recommended to begin baby led weaning around six months of age. This is because at this age most babies can sit up unassisted, can grasp and hold food, and have lost their tongue flex reflex. It is important that all of these developmental markers have been reached before beginning baby led weaning because the baby needs to be able to feed him or herself.

2 Foods That Are Introduced

While baby led weaning does allow babies to have the freedom to try new tastes and textures, there are foods that are recommended. The best foods are fresh fruit, soft cooked vegetables, and healthy carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Avocados, bananas, cooked carrots, and cooked apples are all foods that are commonly fed to babies during baby led weaning. However, they are not all introduced at once. It is important to try one food at a time to make sure there is no allergic reaction.

3 Concerns about Choking

One of the reasons there are proponents of baby led weaning is because it develops the gag reflex earlier than feeding pureed food, and the gag reflex is how the body naturally avoids choking. That being said, there is an obvious concern about choking when giving babies food that is not pureed. This is why larger pieces of food are used during baby led weaning, and small food items like grapes are avoided. Parents are also advised to be careful and watch for signs of choking carefully.

4 Benefits

As you already know, one of the benefits mentioned about baby led weaning is it develops the gag reflex earlier than traditional weaning methods. However, there are other benefits as well. Baby led weaning helps babies develop good eating habits by learning to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Additionally, it helps develop hand-eye coordination. Although, things can get a bit messy at first!

5 How It Works

Now that you know a little bit about baby led weaning, here are some of the specifics. Large pieces of food that can be grasped should be served. The food should also be soft enough that you can mash it between your finger and thumb. Finally, it is important to let babies feed themselves, even though it will be very messy.

6 It is a Process

Baby led weaning is a process, and during the process it is important to understand that they won’t actually be eating that much at first. This is why it is important to supplement their diet with breastmilk or formula so their nutrient and calorie needs are met.

7 Getting Enough Nutrients

Speaking of nutrients, many parents are concerned that their baby won’t get enough nutrients if they choose baby led weaning. However, it is possible, especially since breastmilk or formula is still included. That being said, it is important to give your baby whole foods that are healthy and unprocessed.

Baby led weaning is a vastly different way of weaning babies onto solid food, but there are some valid reasons to try it. If you are interested in baby led weaning, I encourage you to read “Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Food” for more information. What are your thoughts about baby led weaning?


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