Baby Led Weaning – Introducing Solid Foods

Baby led weaning has become very popular over the last few years, but there are still a few Mums that don’t have enough knowledge about it.

I’m not saying that I know everything on this subject, but I can certainly speak from my perspective and experience.

When you think of introducing solid foods to your baby, thoughts normally gravitate towards baby rice, rusks and jars of purées (yuck) because this is what our society is used to.  Not sure why because baby rice nor rusks have any nutritional value.

I first learned about baby led weaning on one of the blogs I used to read when I was pregnant with Teddy, and then of course I had to do a lot of research into it, I can’t remember which blog it was, otherwise I’d give a huge shoutout to it for introducing me.

So what is Baby Led Weaning?

Baby Led Weaning simply means, letting your child feed themselves, it introduces babies to a variety of different textures and flavours from the very beginning of their weaning journey. The difference between baby led weaning and traditional weaning, when you think about it, is in the order that babies learn to eat. With baby led weaning, babies learn to chew their food first before they swallow which is a huge bonus as it helps prevent choking.

With traditional weaning it’s swallowing the food first, then learning to chew afterwards when you finally introduce solids. The choking hazard can actually be greater when you introduce solids to a baby after the’ve already learned to swallow whatever you put in their mouths.

When can you start baby led weaning?

No matter which weaning route you go down, food should not be given to babies until they are around 6 months old and showing all signs of readiness.

I say around 6 months old because all babies develop at different rates and some babies may be ready just before they reach 6 months, but food definitely shouldn’t be introduced too early unless advised by a paediatrician for medical reasons.

There are clear signs that show readiness. There are some babies that aren’t even ready for solids at 6 months, both my boys weren’t ready until 7 months old and I didn’t even know about baby led weaning when I had Krystabelle.

I say both my boys weren’t ready until 7 months old, but Hugo didn’t really show a great interest in food until he was 9 months old but now he absolutely loves his food.

Here’s a list of the most significant signs that babies will show when they’re ready for solid foods, and by solid foods I mean anything other than breastmilk or formula:

  • Head control – Babies needs to be able to keep their heads in a steady, upright position.
  • Sitting well when supported – Babies need to be able to sit upright in a highchair.
  • Pincer grasp – Babies should be able to pick up food or other objects between the thumb and forefinger.
  • Losing the tongue reflex – Babies should have lost their tongue-thrust reflex and not automatically push solids out of their mouths with their tongue.
  • Curiosity about the food – Babies are normally eager to participate in mealtime and may try and grab food and put it in their mouth.

Are there any negatives?

There are positives and negatives to everything, and Baby led weaning is no exemption. no matter how much research you do it’s so scary to watch your baby bite a huge chunk of food then gag because they bit off more than they could chew, but this is a skill they need to learn to eventually be able to eat correctly.

Gagging is actually quite beneficial for them and as I have already mentioned purées ( traditional weaning ) do not teach babies to bite or chew their food.

A big negative for me would be the mess. Baby led weaning is very messy, babies tend to squish and smear food everywhere.

But there are a few things you could possibly do to try and reduce the mess. Unfortunately it’s not avoidable but traditional weaning can be messy too you know.

Just remember that up until the age of One, food is just for fun. Babies are learning so much during this time of their lives and it’s important that we don’t put too much pressure on ourselves or our babies when it comes to weaning.

Just have fun with it and watch them explore.