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Should I choose baby-led weaning or spoon-fed weaning?

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Over the last few years, the baby-led weaning trend has become more and more popular with some mums choosing it over the more traditional, spoon-fed WEANING of introducing foods to their baby.

As with most parenting topics, there is no right way, just what feels right for you and your baby. There are pluses and minuses for both so have a read of what they both entail then just trust your instinct.

Traditional Spoon Feeding

Until recently, this was the way most mums introduced solids to their children. You start with smooth pureed vegetables and fruit and rice cereal and then gradually progress to mashed or chopped foods so they get used to the textures e.g. mashed banana or a sweet potato before finally introducing finger foods such as toast, pasta, cooked vegetable sticks. You can make up lots of meals ahead, having fun varying flavors and textures and then freeze them until needed.

Pluses

  • You will know how much they have eaten
  • You can ensure they are getting a varied diet
  • It is less messy
  • You can use jars and pouches (especially handy when out and about)

Minuses

  • Preparing lots of different purees can be time consuming
  • Spoon-feeding at mealtimes means that you don’t really eat together
  • They get used to the smooth textures so sometimes it’s hard to get them to accept textures
Baby-led method

BABY LED WEANING OR SELF FEEDING METHOD

This means quite simply just letting your baby feed themselves. You just hand them the food in a suitably-sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t. Toast, cucumber, carrot sticks, broccoli, meat – whatever they are able to hold and sensibly chew (or gum!) That’s the essence of it. Lots of mums naturally fall into this with a second child as they are already cooking for the rest of the family.

PLUSES

  • No baby purees to make
  • You can eat together as they feed themselves
  • Meal times are social occasions from the very beginning
  • Your baby gets to explore a range of flavors and textures sooner
  • No rejection of ‘lumpy’ food

MINUSES

  • Lots and lots of mess. Usually involving a military operation to clean up afterwards!
  • Uncertainty about how much they have actually eaten
  • Can feel like you are throwing a lot of food away
  • Can sometimes be difficult to find something suitable when eating out, especially things with low salt
  • Opinions offered from people who have never tried it!
  • Can be a bit scary hearing them gag and you do have to be extra vigilant about choking

Whichever route you choose try not to stress about mealtimes (easier said than done sometimes!) and embrace the mess. We like to remember the saying “food is just for fun before one” as they are still getting what they need from milk so this really is all about learning and experimenting. Good luck mumma!

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