Baby-led weaning is a popular method of introducing solid foods to babies that involves allowing them to self-feed with finger foods. This approach is gaining popularity because it promotes independence, improves fine motor skills, and encourages healthy eating habits. Here are some key things to keep in mind when starting baby-led weaning:
Wait Until Your Baby Is Ready
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until your baby is around 6 months old before introducing solid foods, we share more about how to work out if your baby is ready for weaning here. This is because babies are not physically or developmentally ready for solid foods before this age. Make sure your baby can sit up unsupported and has lost their tongue-thrust reflex before starting baby-led weaning.
Choose the Right Foods
When it comes to baby-led weaning, it’s important to choose foods that are safe and appropriate for your baby’s age. Avoid foods that are choking hazards or difficult to chew, such as nuts, popcorn, or hard candies. Cut foods into small, manageable pieces so that your baby can easily pick them up and eat them. Offer a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins to ensure that your baby gets a balanced diet. Looking for inspiration? We’ve got plenty of our favourite baby led weaning recipes on hand to help you out, including our faves; pizza pinwheels!
Let Your Baby Lead
With baby-led weaning, your baby is in charge of what and how much they eat. They will learn to self-regulate their food intake, which can help prevent overeating and obesity later in life. Don’t force your baby to eat if they’re not interested, and don’t worry if they don’t eat much at first. Over time, they will become more skilled at self-feeding and will start to eat more.
Baby-led weaning can be a messy and slow process, but it’s important to be patient and let your baby learn at their own pace. Don’t rush them or get frustrated if they don’t seem to be making progress. Remember that this is a new skill that they’re learning, and it takes time to master.
Breastmilk or Formula Is Still Important
Remember that breastmilk or formula should still be your baby’s primary source of nutrition until they are around 12 months old. Solid foods are meant to complement, not replace, breastmilk or formula. Make sure your baby is getting enough breastmilk or formula, and offer solid foods as a snack or in addition to their milk.
Encourage Healthy Eating Habits
Baby-led weaning can help encourage healthy eating habits from an early age. By allowing your baby to choose what they want to eat and how much they want to eat, they will learn to listen to their body’s hunger and fullness cues. Offer a variety of healthy foods and avoid sugary or processed foods as much as possible. You can also model healthy eating habits by eating healthy foods yourself and eating together as a family.
Safety is always a top priority when it comes to baby-led weaning. Make sure to supervise your baby while they’re eating to prevent choking, and avoid foods that are choking hazards. Cut foods into small, manageable pieces and avoid giving your baby foods that are round, hard, or difficult to chew.
In conclusion, baby-led weaning can be a fun and rewarding approach to introducing solid foods to your baby. It promotes independence, improves fine motor skills, and encourages healthy eating habits. By waiting until your baby is ready, choosing the right foods, letting your baby lead, being patient, encouraging healthy eating habits, and putting safety first, you can make the most of this approach and help your baby develop a lifelong love of healthy food.