I’m going to talk about something slightly controversial today: baby-led weaning.
When Bo was born, Monkey was already six years old. I was used to freedom and not having to lug stuff around everywhere we went. I wanted to keep things as simple as possible with Bo.
What is Baby-Led Weaning?
Baby-led weaning allows the baby to decide when she is ready for solids and what those solids will be. There is no baby food, no mashing of everything, and no baby cereal.
Baby-led weaning discourages feeding babies food before they can sit up, grab their own food, and ask for food from the table.
How We Practiced Baby-Led Weaning
There is a long book and explanation for the “official” way to baby-led wean (you can get the book here if you are interested), but I thought even that was too much work and unnecessary for a method that basically tells you to feed your baby what you eat.
We waited to introduce Bo to solids until she could sit up well and grab things with a pincher grasp. We snuck her occasional things before that, but from everything I have read, babies aren’t really ready for food until this point. They are also not supposed to eat anything but milk until they have 2-4 teeth, but I can’t remember if we waited quite that long with Bo. She was somewhere between 7 and 8 months before she really got interested in eating table food.
The main difference between baby-led weaning and the modern method to feed babies is that you let them take their own bites with their own hands. This means handing a baby a large chunk of food and basically telling them to get after it.
Other parents were rather shocked that she was allowed to take her own bites (and there were a couple of times where she gagged and made us reconsider the idea). However, from what I read, it is better for babies to gag and learn what they can handle than to swallow something into the esophagus and actually choke. Comfort levels on this vary, and we often cut things into smaller bits, but didn’t mash them completely.
Foods We Offered in Large Chunks
- Most fruit
Foods We Offered in Small Pieces
- Common choking hazards (hot dogs, popcorn, sticky foods)
Foods We Avoided
- Sugary foods
- Hard foods (like chips)
- Common allergens
Benefits of Baby-Led Weaning
For us, the main benefit of baby-led weaning was twofold.
- We didn’t have to buy separate baby food, which saved us money.
- We didn’t have to worry about feeding Bo something different, which saved hassle.
Baby-led weaning isn’t for every family, but we loved the convenience it brought our family. Bo loved eating what we ate, and mealtime was relaxed and easy to do everywhere, particularly during travel.
Did you ever consider baby-led weaning? Why or why not?