Weaning a child takes time and patience, but doing it properly is certainly worthwhile. Effective weaning can give your little one good healthy eating habits for life and eating right is vitally important for long-term health. In this article we discuss one relatively new method of introducing your child to solid food known as ‘baby-led weaning’.
What is baby led weaning?
This approach eschews the traditional way in which parents move their child from milk to adult food. Instead of spooning pureed food into their baby’s mouth, advocates of baby-led weaning argue that babies should choose what they want to eat. By laying out finger food and letting the child pick what she or he wants, it is thought that children learn to eat only what they actually need, rather than finishing everything on a plate for the sake of it. Some experts believe this can reduce a child’s risk of obesity in later life. While the research on this subject is still in the early stages, those who have done baby-led weaning often swear by the approach. If you are interested to try it, here’s how:
- Educate yourself
There are pros and cons to this way of weaning so start by reading up on the subject and see whether it’s right for you. Blogs, websites and advice from healthcare professionals can all be useful. Educate yourself thoroughly so you feel confident with making the decision.
- Make a plan
If you want to go for it, start by creating a rough plan of when and how you’ll introduce new foods to your child. One of the benefits of baby-led weaning is that it’s versatile because you can coordinate your baby’s meals with what the rest of the family is eating. Been to a local farmers’ market or Christmas market on that day? No problem – whatever your family is having for dinner it’s often possible to make a baby-friendly version. Just remember to include lots of fresh veg and avoid salt, sugar, full-fat dairy products and anything your baby will find difficult to eat.
- Start baby-led weaning
Once you have a few healthy eating finger-food recipes to hand (excuse the pun), start introducing this type of food to your child. Put them in an easy-to-clean high chair in the kitchen and leave a few pieces of your chosen food on their table top (no need for bowls) for them to pick up as they wish. Good options are softened carrots, avocado and bread. Always be wary of choking risks and keep a good eye on your child as they eat to make sure it’s going down the right way.
- Review progress
Once your baby has tried a few pieces of finger food you’ll probably get a good sense of what they like and dislike and will be able to go from there. Try adding in a few different food items each week to keep broadening their options. After a few months of this you’ll have a range of different items that they like to eat and that you like to prepare. Take the process step-by-step and in no time you’ll have a healthy, happy, solid-food eating child!