What is baby led weaning?
Baby led weaning is another way of describing self -feeding. Typically, this involves offering soft finger foods which your baby can grab and put into their mouths themselves.
What is spoon fed or puree led weaning?
With spoon fed or puree led weaning the food is usually mashed or pureed (depending on your baby’s readiness for lumps) and fed to your baby on a spoon by someone else.
Which method of weaning should I choose?
There is no right or wrong and it is possible to do a combination of both baby-led and spoon fed weaning. It’s important to think about which method suits you and your baby. If your baby is 6 months, reaching for foods and putting everything into their mouth you might find that they enjoy baby led weaning. If your baby is younger, was born prematurely or is not interested in picking up food just yet then it might be a good idea to start with spoon fed and progress on to finger foods a little later.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of baby led weaning?
This will be different for everyone however the table below shows some of the typical advantages and disadvantages….
|Advantages of baby led weaning||Disadvantages of baby led weaning|
|• It encourages chewing right from the start. It is important to note that it’s also possible to encourage chewing with spoon fed weaning as long as you are offering lumpier textures.
• There is no need to mash or puree the food so you may save time on preparing your homemade baby foods.
• Your baby is in charge of how much they eat.
|• It can be harder to monitor exactly how much your baby has eaten. This won’t be important for everyone but if you need to monitor how much ‘goes in’ it can be more challenging to do this with a baby led approach.
• Not all foods come in finger food form.
• It will be messy. But mess is fun remember!
• There may be more food wastage
Will my baby choke on finger foods?
Providing the foods are an appropriate size and texture i.e. roughly the length of an adult’s index finger, flat or slim slices rather round and chunky, and soft enough to bite through with gums or squish between your fingers there is little risk of your baby choking.
You should also make sure your baby is sat in an upright position with good head and neck control and never leave your baby alone whilst eating. We cover the difference between gagging and choking in detail in our online course and have included a bonus first aid video on what to do if your baby chokes.
Will my baby be less fussy if I follow a baby led weaning approach?
Baby led weaning has not been tested in a randomised control trial and there is insufficient evidence to suggest that it has better long-term feeding outcomes than spoon fed weaning. Most of the research suggests that introducing a wide variety of flavours and encouraging lumpy and textured foods as soon as your baby is developmentally ready is the best way to supporting positive eating behaviours in infancy.