Baby-Led Weaning vs. Traditional Weaning

There are lots of different approaches to weaning and like most parenting issues, what is right for one family, won?t necessarily suit another. There are two main camps when it comes to weaning; the ?traditional? approach and the ?baby-led? approach.

You may choose to take a traditional route, try out baby-led weaning or combine the two techniques. You will find that in time, you tailor your approach to your baby’s unique tastes; part of the excitement of this time is learning what your baby likes and doesn’t like. Will they go crazy for sweet fruit, or love savoury cheese? Smooth textures or crunchy? Time to start exploring!

Traditional Weaning

Traditional weaning involves pureeing food for your baby, starting them off with getting used to swallowing very soft pureed foods before moving on gradually to rougher textures. This doesn’t mean everything you give your baby has to be pureed; you might want to try them with finger foods as well, especially when they have been responding well to the purees. This approach remains popular as many Mothers worry about choking and making sure their baby has a full meal.

Baby-led Weaning

This is a technique that involves allowing your baby to feed themselves from the very start of weaning. This means giving them pieces of food and letting them feed themselves, allowing them to choose which foods to eat and how they eat it. So not purees, jars of baby food or food processing meals. The benefits of baby led weaning are championed by some Mothers who feel that this approach leads to greater independence, better acceptance of different foods, less tendency to be fussy eaters when older and better nutrition due to the wider range of foods consumed. It is also easier, with no messing around with purees and spoon feeding.

Worried about Choking?

Whether you decide to use purees and mashed foods or go for the baby-led weaning approach, it is likely that you will be giving your baby a range of different textures which may leave you concerned about choking. Always make sure that foods you give your baby are not too hard and never give your baby solid food before they are able to sit up straight unaided and reach for food to put in their own mouth. Always supervise eating; never leave your baby alone with food.

Getting Baby Interested

Whether you are trying to offer your baby a pureed meal or a selection of finger foods, the key is to keep it relaxed and fun. Try different colours and textures, and let your baby play with the food. Even if you are spoon-feeding your little one, let them play with, suck or munch on a piece of toast or a suitable finger food. You can feed them during their exploration with the finger foods and keep them interested in the feeding process. It can get baby excited and interested in their food if you offer them a bowl and spoon with just a little food in it, and let them try to feed themselves (or mix the food around) while you feed them. This helps them feel involved and independent and it lots of fun. The surprised look on your baby’s face when they finally get the spoon into their mouth, even accidentally, will be priceless.

Author: Arlene Copeland

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