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Baby Led Weaning: Some Tips

Are you ready to start the weaning process for your baby? You may have heard of baby led weaning, but what is it? Baby led weaning is the introduction of solid foods to your baby’s diet alongside your baby’s dependency on milk, breast or bottle fed.

Rather than introducing new foods via purees and mashed-up versions of what you might be eating, baby led weaning involves sharing solid foods with your baby so that they can choose what to try and eat. Ready to give it a go? Here are some common questions and answers from new parents...

Do I need any equipment for baby led weaning?

Baby led weaning is all about encouraging your baby to try new foods that they can hold and eat independently. From pieces of banana to small slices of toast, these are all foods your baby can try without any need for special equipment. However cups, tableware and bibs designed for babies are useful and are also much easier for your baby to handle and practise with.

When to start baby led weaning?

The World Health Organisation advises that babies be introduced to solid foods at no less than six months old. In the UK, Health Visitors look for signs that your baby is ready for weaning; they’ll observe whether your baby can independently hold its head up and if your baby is naturally starting to reach and grab for things to put in its mouth. These signs are strong indicators that your baby is ready to try baby led weaning and your Health Visitor will be able to offer further advice regarding when to begin introducing your baby to solid foods.

What are the pros and cons of baby led weaning?

Many parents worry about choking when considering baby led weaning. That said, there is no evidence that suggests babies are more likely to choke when feeding themselves or with a bowl and spoon. Some babies do initially prefer foods with a smoother texture when making the transition from being purely milk fed, but whether feeding themselves or with a spoon, it’s likely to be a messy affair, so be prepared to be wiping everything down at mealtimes. Antibacterial wipes are always useful, especially when eating out.

How do I start baby led weaning/

If your baby is at least six months old and you are confident that they are ready to start baby led weaning, the most common approach is to start with steamed vegetables and sliced food, so that your baby can easily hold and swallow what you give them. Make sure you wait for food to cool suitably, though. Once they’re used to these items, you can gradually start to introduce harder foods that can be chewed with bare gums.

What can your baby drink when exploring baby led weaning?

Water from a lidded cup is the most common and advised drink to offer your baby when first starting baby led weaning. The lidded cup encourages them to start drinking rather than sucking, and you can get bottle handles to help with their grip.

Gill Rapley is considered by many to have coined the phrase ‘Baby Led Weaning’ and her book Baby Led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food is widely available and full of hints and tips.

Have you tried baby led weaning? Do you have any tips for other parents who are considering this process?

Until next time...

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