Baby-Led Weaning: Should you let your baby feed themselves?

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Should you skip spoon-feeding and let your baby feed themselves?

Baby-Led Weaning is a method that started in the UK that “lets your child feed themselves from the very start of weaning.” (Weaning here means adding solid foods to complement the baby’s primary diet of breastmilk or formula.)

It 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.

baby led weaning

Photo: Dreamstime

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.

Benefits of Baby-Led Weaning

  • it facilitates the development of oral motor control
  • it makes eating a positive and interactive experience
  • it strengthens self-regulation
  • it 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.

For tips on Baby-Led Weaning, click to the next page.

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
  • your baby 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.

baby led weaning

Photo: Fotolia

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.

READ: New study: Avocados are the best first food for babies

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