It probably seems like just yesterday you were meeting your baby for the first time and now they are ready to start eating solid food. Whether you decide to go the more traditional route or try baby led weaning, the important thing is that your baby is healthy and happy.
Baby led weaning is all many moms and dads can talk about. But, what is it exactly?
Baby led weaning (BLW) or baby led feeding is letting babies and infants feed themselves, skipping over the traditional spoon feeding method by mom or dad. Food is served in small pieces and must be able to be squished between your fingers. Due to the small size and soft texture of foods, food is easy to hold, eat, and has a low choke risk.
Many parents choose the BLW route because it’s easy. There is not need to make something separate for baby but rather adapt food you might already be eating. Also, BLW fosters independence in little ones, so many families who like Montessori also like baby led weaning because of the independence it fosters in little ones.
Baby led weaning also helps develop motor and oral skills. Different food consistencies (vs. only pureed foods) help your baby work on tongue movement, jaw strength, and swallowing. Babies are also in control of their appetite, they can eat and stop when full. Baby led weaning can also be cheaper because you will not be buying cereals, pouches, blenders or jars.
Also, don’t worry. Babies who are started on finger foods or solid foods are not at any higher risk of choking then children who are spoon-fed by their parents.
Just keep in mind that it is recommended by health professionals that only one new food be introduced to baby at a time in case of allergies. For more recommendations and restrictions when switching your baby to solid foods see our blog post: When, What and How to Switch to Solid Foods.
When feeding your baby, it is always recommended to avoid force feeding and don’t worry about the mess with baby led weaning. Many parents use a coverall or smock instead of the traditional bib due to the messier nature of baby led weaning. Also, while you will not be spoon feeding your baby, it is never recommended to leave your baby unsupervised with food.
Furthermore, don’t forget to incorporate high iron foods into your baby’s diet. Babies hit a high-point in iron lose at 9 months and your baby won’t be eating iron fortified cereals. So, consider incorporating: chicken, beef, tofu, egg, black or pinto beans, raisins, cheerios, spinach, and lentils into your baby’s diet. Vitamin C alongside iron rich foods helps in absorption. Food s with high vitamin C include: citric fruits (oranges, pineapple, grapefruit), papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kiwi and cantaloupe.
With all these recommendations we hope you consider baby led weaning as a possibility for your baby, and remember it is not all or nothing. You are free to do some baby led weaning as well as traditional purees. A fed baby is a happy baby. Also nothing is better for baby than a Storybook tummy massage after meals.
Try Storybook today to help your little one’s digestion.