First, in case you haven’t heard this term before, let me translate. Baby-led weaning is a way to introduce solid foods to babies. Basically instead of mashing or pureeing food, you just cut it into large pieces and allow them to gum it/suck on it. Eventually they learn to take bites, chew and swallow the food. There are lots of sites to Google, if you want more information about this.
When I first heard of baby-led weaning, I dismissed it. (Actually, I believe I told my husband that it was “some hippy s*it”.) Anyway, I take it back. I happily admit that I was wrong because I love baby-led weaning. Like LOVE it. We started it with my son when he was 6 months old and now, at just over a year old, he eats most foods happily and feeds himself. I have never done purees, or had to sit down to two dinners because we had to spoon feed him his food first. We eat all together using most of the same foods.
Here are some things to know about baby-led weaning:
At first it will look like they are not eating
You will give them food, which they will suck on, bite and spit out. They are still getting some type of milk though, so they will be fine. Also they will make a hilarious face with each bite of food, which is worth documenting. After a couple months we started noticing that the food got eaten more often. Then suddenly, they will eat everything in sight.
It will freak the hell out of a lot of people:
I am not sure why, but I think it has to do with the gagging. Babies, being new to the whole eating thing, are not quite sure where the food goes in their mouths.So, they will gag to move the food around their mouth, but many confuse it with choking. A lot of people have a tough time with the gagging noise, especially nervous grandparents or first time parents, but it passes quickly as they figure out this whole food thing. If you are trying baby-led weaning around a lot of nervous people, you may be better off distracting them with something shiny while you feed the baby. On the bright side, in a few months they will all be super impressed with your baby. Hang in there.
They will basically spend all their time eating:
I don’t go anywhere with my son without 12 snacks. I used to bring a diaper bag full of diapers, clothes and wipes. I now bring a cooler with a couple of diapers stuffed in the side. My son LOVES to eat. He will even try to eat stranger’s food. If a cute, loud baby recently grabbed your food off your plate, I apologize. Apparently breakfast, brunch, lunch, post-lunch, pre-dinner and dinner are not enough.
The biggest drawback is that the baby will try to eat your food:
Since the baby is used to eating the same food as you, they will want to eat your food. You may think it is the same as yours but it isn’t. Even though you cut their food off yours in front of them, they will still prefer your food. You will end up eating their left-overs, while they eat your delicious dinner. Hope you like your food cold and drool-covered.
It is not messier than spoon feeding:
If you do research about baby-led weaning, you will see lots of articles that claim baby-led weaning is messier than spoon feeding. In my experience this is complete crap. Every baby makes a huge mess at the beginning. It is unavoidable, no matter who does the feeding. Unless they are eating something super liquidy, it does improve with time.
Have you tried baby-led weaning? What do you think?