Baby-led weaning is a method that started in the UK that “lets your child feed themselves from the very start of weaning.” Weaning meaning: adding solid foods to complement the baby’s primary diet of breastmilk or formula.
The meaning of weaning entails introducing your baby to solids by your child soft-cooked foods cut or mashed into small pieces and allowing them to “self-feed” instead of spoon-feeding.
According to the baby led weaning website, most babies reach for food at around six months, which is around the time that mothers are encouraged to start weaning.
Baby led weaning
Baby-led weaning refers to feeding your baby only finger foods and allowing them to feed themselves from the start. You can provide a selection of small bites that are finger-sized.
Some parents favor baby-led weaning over spoon-feeding, while others combine the two approaches. There is no right or wrong way to feed your kid; what is important is that he or she eats a variety of foods and gets all of the nutrients he or she needs.
For drinks, give your baby sips of water from an open or free-flow cup. Using an open cup or a free-flow cup without a valve will assist your infant in learning to drink while also benefiting his or her teeth.
It is vital to disinfect the water if your infant is under the age of six months by boiling it first and then allowing it to cool fully.
Baby led weaning starter foods
How to start weaning? Here are some baby led weaning recipes you can try at home.
To start weaning, give your infant a small amount of solid food once a day. Begin by blending, mashing, or soft cooking single vegetables and fruits, such as broccoli, potato, sweet potato, carrot, or apple.
One of the most common baby led weaning recipes you can try is mixing rice with baby’s milk for your child. Don’t forget to check if any cooked food has totally cooled before offering it to your baby.
Foods that may trigger allergic reactions should also be introduced one at a time, in very little amounts, to ensure that any reaction is noticed. This may include:
- Nuts and peanuts
- Food that contain gluten
Benefits of baby led weaning
There are lots of benefits your baby can get from baby led weaning. Some of the benefits of baby led weaning are the following:
- it facilitates the development of oral motor control
- makes eating a positive and interactive experience
- it strengthens self-regulation
- increases exposure to table food
- it helps kids become more adventurous eaters later in life
It’s not for everyone, though. Though it works for some babies, it does not work for all—especially those born prematurely, babies with oral motor delays, or those who aren’t interested in self-feeding.
How to start baby led weaning?
Around 6 months of age, most healthy, full-term newborns are ready to begin solid meals. However, before you introduce solid meals or finger foods to your infant, make sure he or she has met the following developmental milestones:
- The baby is at least 6 months old.
- Is able to sit on his own.
- The baby is able to keep his head firm and straight.
- Can effortlessly pick up objects and bring them to his or her mouth.
- Baby eats by mouthing it or leaning forward for it.
Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Make sure your baby is ready for solids.
Before you give your baby her first solid meal, she should meet the following criteria:
- your baby must be at least six months old
- must be able to stay in a sitting position and hold her head steady
- your baby should be able to coordinate their eyes, hands, and mouth
2. Do your research.
Read up on other parents’ experiences with baby led weaning so you’ll know what to prepare for, and if baby led weaning is right for you and your baby.
3. Skip “baby food.”
So long as you’re not adding salt or sugar, soft-cooked whole foods should be good for your baby. Start with a size that would be easy to grip. Most people steam carrots or cut up cucumbers, but you can also serve your baby a pile of spaghetti or mashed potato.
4. No bowls.
It’ll just end up on the floor. Serve the food on the highchair tray and remember that this is a learning experience for your baby. Which leads to the next item…
5. Anticipate mess.
Lots of it.
6. Enjoy it.
Take out your camera and capture these lovely, messy moments. This will be over before you know it, so savor every moment.
What to do and not to do during baby led weaning
Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels
- Make a noise-free eating environment by removing loud, unexpected noises.
- Put your baby in a completely upright highchair, preferably one with a footplate and detachable tray, so he or she can eat at the table with you.
- Allow your child to eat on his or her own. This requires picking up the meal and delivering it to their own lips.
- Provide your baby with large portions of food that he or she can pick up and handle.
- Reduce the size of the food to smaller pieces as your baby’s pincer grasp improves.
- Allow your child to get dirty! Self-feeding entails a certain amount of mess, which may assist prevent picky eating later on.
- Provide a limited number of options. At each meal, provide small servings of a variety of items at the same time.
- Always keep your finger out of his or her mouth. Allow your child to feed himself.
- If you want your baby to eat, don’t make him or her force it. Your baby must select how much to eat.
- To get food out of your baby’s mouth, never put your fingers in his or her mouth. By theatrically pushing out your tongue, encourage them to spit out a large piece of food that has broken off and entered their mouth.
- If you want your child to sit quietly for a meal, don’t use distractions (phones, videos, music, television, reading, etc.).
Step by step weaning from breastfeeding
Part of babies’ developmental milestones is the gradual transition from consuming full breast milk to eating a variety of solid foods and drinking formula milk. If you are breastfeeding your baby, maybe you are wondering when to start weaning from breastfeeding.
Weaning means gradually stopping breastfeeding and starting introducing solid foods and formula milk to your baby.
Weaning in Tagalog means pag-awat sa pagpapasuso sa iyong anak. In Tagalog or Filipino, weaning also means pagwalay sa nakagawiang paraan ng pagdede ng iyong anak at simula ng pagpapakilala sa kaniya ng solid na pagkain.
Of course, it is a shock to your baby if the weaning from breastfeeding is done abruptly. So, remember moms, learning the step by step process of weaning from breastfeeding is essential.
Photo by Vanessa Loring from Pexels
Weaning from breastfeeding
According to World Health Organization, as stated in an article published by Medela.com, it is recommended that babies should be breastfed for the first six months of their life.
After the age of 6 months, moms should continue to breastfeed their babies while they can start giving them complementary foods alongside the mother’s milk. Moms should do this at least until their babies reach the age of two years.
So, the first step in weaning from breastfeeding is introducing complementary foods alongside your breastmilk when your baby is 6-month old. That is important because, after six months, babies need more nutrients that they cannot just get from the breastmilk alone.
The certain nutrients your baby needs are iron, zinc, and vitamins B and D. However, remember that breastmilk is still the major source of their nutrients until they are two years old.
Furthermore, after the age of six months, you can also start weaning from breastfeeding to formula. At this age, you may start giving your baby formula milk alongside your breastmilk and complementary foods.
Remember that as much as possible, WHO recommends that weaning from breastfeeding to formula should be done after the age of six months.
Make sure you do the weaning gradually because a sudden stop from breastfeeding may cause you breast engorgement and blocked ducts or mastitis. Additionally, it may also cause harm to your baby’s digestive and immune systems. Stopping breastfeeding abruptly may take a toll on your emotions and on your baby’s well-being.
Other things to remember: Baby led weaning
As you introduce solid foods to your child, remember that not all solid foods are already safe for them. During the stage of baby led weaning your baby starts to be exposed to different textures of foods. At this time, it is important to avoid giving your baby any food that may choke them.
Here are some of the foods that are choking hazards to your child:
- Whole berries and whole grapes or any small, firm, round foods.
- Vegetables with hard textures (Example: Carrots)
- Foods that are too sticky for babies to be managed alone (Example: Peanut butter)
- Hard and crunchy foods (Example: Potato chips, corn chips, popcorn, and nuts)
Additionally, if your child is under the age of 1 year old, do not ever give them honey and cow’s milk. Ingesting honey may cause botulism in babies. On the other hand, cow’s milk may put your baby at risk of having digestive tract bleeding.
Additional information from Margaux Dolores and Jobelle Macayan
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