If you have known from the very beginning that you have no interest in feeding baby food from a jar. And the idea of making airplane sounds while slowly spooning sweet potato purée into your baby’s open mouth just doesn’t really feel right to you, then baby-led is the way to go.
On the surface, it sounds like it’s going to be the easiest thing in the world because surely you just put the food in front of the baby and the magic happens. However, there are a few little tips that can help the whole process go so much smoother.
“Aim to treat your baby with the same respect you would any other mealtime companion. That means not telling her what to eat or how much, not constantly wiping her face, and resisting the temptation to do the washing-up while she is still eating!”
― Gill Rapley
Waiting until your baby is ready is actually something that many parents find quite tricky. Your baby should be able to sit in a chair unassisted. And have a good enough neck strength too. They need to be able to move the food to the back of the mouth with up-and-down jaw movements. Almost all healthy children over six months of age are developmentally able to self-feed. However, strong chewing skills might not fully be developed until your baby reaches nine months. And we know all babies are different, so follow thier lead.
Weaning is kind of a strange thing to call it. Because technically, your baby still needs breast milk or formula for quite some time. In fact, it will be the biggest source of nutrition until your baby reaches around 12 months of age. If you are going organic, I’m down the baby-led weaning route then the chances are you’ll be very interested in whole foods baby formula too.
Even if you think something is very soft, you still have teeth to help you out. The food that you feed your baby should be incredibly soft. Fruits that are very ripe, cooked egg yolks, flaky fish (be sure to check for any stray bones), finely mashed or rice potatoes, puffed cereals and cooked pasta are all great options. There is a reason why babies love bananas that one of the easiest things they can feed themselves and the texture is perfect when mashed.
The goal of baby-led weaning is to make sure that your little one sets the pace. Unfortunately, that will mean they are going to want to rub the food on their head on the T-shirt on the highchair, throw it, mash it and do countless other things with it. And that all makes a big mess. So you should be prepared for lots of mess and try not to worry too much about it. You can put a tablecloth underneath the highchair, just make sure it’s a wipe-clean one.
And finally, have fun. It’s a huge step, and you both should be able to enjoy it to the fullest.