What is baby-led weaning?
Baby-led weaning involves skipping spoon feeding and beginning with finger foods when the baby is ready. The underpinning idea is that the baby will know how much food they wish to eat, using their own hunger cues.
Baby-led weaning is basically a new term for how I was fed as a child of the 80’s. According to my Mother finger foods were placed on the high chair and we ate them. Baby-led weaning involves the use of finger foods instead of purees for the baby.
Benefits of baby-led weaning?
- Enhanced fine-motor skills and development of pincer grip
- More exposure to food textures, lumps and bumps
- Led by the child’s hunger cues
- Greater acceptance of many foods (less fussy eating down the track)
Considerations for baby-led weaning?
- Plenty of mess, on the floor, high chair, baby…
- Potential for food wastage
- Unsure if baby is getting enough nutrients
- May take more time than spoon feeding as baby is playing
Some parents are concerned that their baby may not get enough nutrients by simply eating finger foods, and might do a combination of both baby-led weaning and spoon feeding. Remember milk remains the main source of nutrition until about age 1, however iron-rich foods will need to be given whether by puree or finger food.
My thoughts on baby-led weaning
Ultimately how you feed your baby is up to you. Personally I did a combination of both spoon feeding and baby-led weaning with my two daughters (1 and 3). With my second baby there was more finger food as I had less time (I was still close by and supervising), but found it quite easy to let them explore the textures and smells of food. As a self-confessed neat freak the mess is a daily struggle, however it is only temporary, and for me the benefits outweigh the negatives.
For more information visit the Ellen Satter Institute.
If you are unsure if this approach is right for you, or would like more information please consult your local Child Health Nurse or GP.