Baby-led Weaning Is Awesome!

I totally adore baby-led weaning. As you know, I'm a self-confessed food fan. Nothing pretentious, just simple, home-cooked family comfort food. So when my first was coming up to 6 months, I started to explore the different options for starting solids. Purees seemed like the standard and most common approach. Something about this style of feeding/eating just didn't click for me. I wanted my children to see food as it existed, in its whole, and natural state. That seemed standard and normal to me. Food looking and feeling like food. So I went down the baby-led or 'finger food' route instead. And never looked back!

For many families, pureeing is still the preferred method and that's absolutely fine, always go with what suits you best, but for those interested in a different approach, here are 7 reasons to love baby-led weaning:

7 Reasons To Love Baby-led Weaning:

 

It’s Fun!

Babies love to explore the world. Food is an incredible place to start. The colours, textures, smells and tastes are big and exciting for a young baby. They can get their hands messy, and yes – playing with your food when you’re under 1 is absolutely allowed! Encourage them to make shapes on their food tray, squish the fruit between their fingers and make patterns with the peas. It all helps create a love of food. A love that will serve them well later in life. Babies that have a happy relationship with their food are less likely to become fussy as they grow up. If you do find your children become a little fussy later down the line (which many children do),  I have written some advice for fussy eaters which you'll hopefully find useful too. 


It’s A Learning Tool

There is so much to learn about food, and seeing, experiencing it in its whole state just increases the opportunities to discover what it's all about. Food is visual- bold exciting shapes, vibrant colours and patterns. Whole foods also have different elements such as the skin you need to peel or a part of the food you don’t eat (the centre of corn on the cob or the rind on a melon). Some foods are served hot, some are cold, some – like toast are easy to grasp and hold, others like spaghetti not so easy. All of this is teaching your baby incredible skills.


It’s A Shared Experience

Baby-led weaning is pretty hands-free for the parents. Leaving them to eat their own meal. Which ultimately means you all eat together, rather than one after the other. Not only is this an enjoyable mealtime for you, but it offers your baby the opportunity to observe how you eat and mimic your behaviour.


Meal Prep Is Easier

You all eat the same thing! Simple as that. There are usually only minor adaptations that are needed for babies such as the way food is cut or reducing the salt content etc. See NHS guidance for the list of foods to avoid giving babies. (It's actually a pretty small list and most family friendly meals will be just fine to serve to a baby above 6 months of age.)

You Don’t Need Tons Of Specialist Equipment

A good, easy to clean high chair, a stash of bibs, some plastic plates and child-friendly cutlery (the cutlery comes much later anyway) and you’re good to go! To be fair we didn’t always bother with the bibs anyway- when at home, we just let them eat in a nappy! One other product you might want to invest in is a set of reusable wipes for post-meal cleanup. Cheeky Wipes are fab, and Babipur has plenty of great options too.

 

No Overfeeding

It’s very easy to overfeed a spoon-fed baby. It’s common for a portion of food to be made without proper consideration as to how much the baby actually needs, and for there to be a desire from the caregiver to ensure their baby finishes the whole bowl. This often leads to overfeeding. When a baby fed on finger foods is full, they simply choose to stop eating. (Often throwing the remainder on the floor for the dog, but we can skip past that!)


Eating Out Is Easier

There is no need to search for a restaurant that agrees to heat up baby food or let your expensive meal get cold while you feed the baby first. Simply ask for an extra side dish and offer baby something from your plate, or order something from the menu! Most restaurants are more than happy to make a plain dish such as cooked veg or pasta for a baby.

 

In a nutshell, baby-led weaning is fun, educational and simple. Yes, it's messy, can't get around that, but once you learn to embrace the mess, it’s all good!