A lot of people have asked me recently about skipping purees and going straight into baby led weaning. There are pros and cons to every weaning approach. You need to find the approach that works for you but here are some of my thoughts if you are looking for guidance.
Baby Led Weaning
The theory is that if you wait until 6 months your baby can skip purees and start feeding themselves with finger foods. The baby takes part in family meal times and the baby decides how much she/he will eat. Your baby is in the driving seat but finger foods have their limitations.
This approach starts with spoon feeding of purees which progresses through four stages of textures. Using a spoon can be helpful when trying to achieve variety as some foods are not good finger foods. It’s very much a parent led agenda and the risk is the parent does not respect the child’s refusal and spoon feeding becomes intrusive.
I believe there is a good middle ground and both spoon feeding and finger foods have their place in the weaning process. Just as long as you, the parent, fulfil your feeding role then there is no risk that spoon feeding becomes a negative experience.
- Attentive feeding is at the heart of this approach. Respect your role in the feeding realtionship (see earlier post) and watch for signs that your baby wants more or has had enough.
- There is nothing wrong with spoon feeding if it is done properly. When you first start with weaning your child will most likely be unable to feed themselves sufficiently. Spoon feeding will provide taste exposure and nutrition until they can adequately eat by themselves. I have known some babies to start waking up at night again because baby led weaning did not fill them up.
- Let them play with food even whilst you are spoon feeding e.g. give them a soft cooked carrot stick to chew on. That way they get to feel the texture and engage with the food.
- Be wary of iron deficiency.The foods that are good sources of iron (chicken, meat, fish, beans/lentils) are often hard to give a 6 month old as finger foods so spoon feeding is handy for these.
- The stages of weaning are not time specific. Your child may progress very quickly through purees and textured foods to soft finger foods. Let your child be your guide to the right texture for them at that stage.
- Encourage family meals. Try to involve your baby in your meal times (have them sit at the table with you) and try to eat something when they eat. And instead of cooking separate meals, try to tailor your meals to your little one (no sugar and salt).
TOP TIP: Let your child’s development determine how you progress with weaning and what type of foods you offer.