Baby led weaning is an approach where babies are offered pieces of food and left to feed for themselves. There is no spoon or purees involved, which is the case in traditional spoon feeding.
Baby -led weaning
Traditional spoon feeding
Promotes independence and baby learns self-feeding skills
Flexible and easy to modify depending on your needs
Promotes a positive attitude towards foods and less fussiness
Potential to offer more variety of foods
Please note that it has been shown that babies who are not exposed to pieces of food by 12 months of age can experience feeding issues growing up with difficulties with learning to chew. If you are following a spoon-feeding approach, it is important to start doing so by the time your baby is 8 -9 months.
Baby led weaning checklist
· Start super soft: overcooked veggies, overripe fruits, well cooked pasta
· Remove pips, tough skins or other hard bits
· Cut them in sticks roughly the size and shape of your little finger
· Always sit with the baby when eating
Good finger food options
Foods to be cautious with
Cherry (small) tomatoes
Where I stand
I am a big fan of the combined approach where you start with combing spoon-feeding puree food with some soft finger foods and let your baby explore the different ways of weaning. All babies are different, some babies love self-feeding from the start, where others need a more gentle introduction with the help of spoon feeding to start with.
Myth #1: ‘Combining the 2 methods will confuse the baby and will lead to chocking episodes ‘. There is no evidence that combining the two will ‘’confuse ‘’ the baby.
Myth #2: ‘Babies without teeth cannot chew and can’t have finger foods ‘. Babies can chew with their gums! Your baby doesn’t need teeth for chewing.
Gagging vs chocking
Gagging: that will be a frequent part of your weaning process and is the activation of your baby’s gag reflex usually because they want to remove a lump of food that isn’t ready to be swallowed. The tongue thrusts out, face goes red and baby coughs, splutters and gags.
What you need to do: nothing, leave the baby alone. Intervening may worsen things.
Chocking: this is means that your baby’s airway has been blocked with a lump of food. The difference from gagging is that the baby is unable to breath, face goes blue and there is no cough (silent blue baby).
What you need to do: call for help and start first aid measures (if you are not already trained, I suggest you do so before your weaning journey starts)