What is baby-led weaning?
Baby-led weaning involves letting babies feed themselves rather than being spoon-fed baby purees. The term is a bit misleading because it has nothing to do with weaning your baby off breastfeeding or formula – self feeding another way to describe this method. You let your little one choose what to eat by providing food in sizes they can handle and they will eat at their own pace.
The pros and cons:
Some of the advantages of baby-led weaning:
A few disadvantages of baby-led weaning;
How to get started:
Start with baby fist sized chunks of food – foods shaped like a french fry or foods that have a handle are good to start with. Because babies haven't develope their pincer grip yet, they need to be able to pick up the food in their fist. Soft, ripe fruit (like pears, apples), avocado, grated cheese, steamed broccoli, turkey pieces (long pieces, not cubes) are all good options to try first. Your little one might just play with the food to start, resist the urge to hand them the food. If they are not ready to take it on their own, they are not ready to try it.
Will they choke?
I have to admit, this was my biggest concern when I started reading about this method. One thing I learned was the difference between chocking and gagging. If a baby can't handle a piece of food, their natural response will be to gag and push the food out – this is not chocking (but is still scary). Once they can sit upright and can chew enough to move the food to the back of their mouths, the risk of chocking is minimal.
Having said that, babies should never be left unattended when eating and you should still avoid chocking hazards like whole grapes, cherry tomatoes or any food shaped like their airway.
Other tips and things to know:
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