Weaning refers to the time when your baby will no longer depend on breastmilk or formula milk for nourishment. This likewise means that weaning begins the moment you introduce solid foods to your baby. Traditionally, the baby’s parents and caretakers take a proactive role in weaning an infant by spoon-feeding them with pureed or mashed foods. Now, experts reveal that baby-led weaning also has numerous advantages. What is baby-led weaning, and how can you choose the best solid food for your infant?
Traditional vs. Baby-led weaning
Like mentioned earlier, traditional weaning denotes that the parents usually spoon-feed their baby with pureed or mashed food. They can choose whether they will prepare the food themselves or buy the packed ones sold in the market.
Some of the advantages of traditional weaning are that it allows the caretaker to monitor how much of the food the child consumes and poses less risk of choking.
On the other hand, baby-led weaning means you’ll let your baby self-feed. You can do this by placing bits and pieces of solid foods in front of them. Afterward, you will let your baby take their time to grab the food and put it in their mouth.
One of the benefits of baby-led weaning, according to experts, is that children develop their fine motor skills, as they have to explore with both their hands and mouth. Additionally, baby-led weaning encourages them to chew food first before swallowing, whereas the opposite happens in traditional weaning.
The right time to start weaning
Usually, you can begin weaning your baby once they reach 6 months; however, be sure to look for the following signs that they are ready:
- Sit upright and can hold their head steadily.
- Swallow food instead of spitting them out.
- Coordinate their eyes, hands, eyes, and mouth so they can grab the food and put it in their mouth.
Finally, remember that your baby will still be getting most of their nourishment from breastmilk or formula milk during the weaning process. This is why, according to reports, you don’t need to worry about how much they are eating.
The goal is to get them used to the act of chewing and the taste and texture of different foods.
Foods for baby-led weaning
You can start by feeding your baby bits and pieces of soft-cooked vegetables. To give you an idea, here’s a list:
- Sweet corn
You can also give your baby fruits as finger foods. However, please remember to wash the fruits and remove any hard skin. Moreover, you should also cook any hard fruit to soften them first.
To give your baby their protein fill, you can consider the following baby-led weaning foods. Cook them well and cut them up into chunks or shred them into strips.
- Fish (no bones)
And for their carbohydrate source, consider preparing bits and pieces of the following:
- Sweet potato
When preparing baby foods for weaning, be sure that the pieces, chunks, or sticks of foods are “grabbable,” something they can grip with a bit of the food sticking out.
Most importantly, do not leave your baby on their own; be sure to watch them eat to check for choking hazards.
Additionally, introduce a baby-led weaning food that may cause an allergic reaction one at a time. Examples of these foods are:
- Cow’s milk
- Foods with gluten, such as wheat
- Nuts and peanuts
Moreover, avoid giving them honey until they are 1 year old as it may cause food poisoning.
Please remember that there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to weaning. You can use the traditional approach, the baby-led method, or combine the two. What’s important is that your baby is getting all the nutrients they need for their healthy growth and development.
Learn more about Baby Nutrition here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.