I felt lead to write another Baby Led Weaning post and I thought I would answer some commonly asked questions that I often get from parents about Baby Led Weaning. This is a topic that I really enjoy discussing with people. I love food and I think that teaching that love to food to our children is important. I believe that Baby Led Weaning is one of the best ways to help instill within children a love of food.
When can you start Baby Led Weaning? You can start giving your child soft, solids when they are 6 months old, have good head control and can comfortably sit up in a high chair. You also want your child to be showing signs they want to try to eat (reaching for foods that you are eating, watching you eat, etc). You want them to be able to do these things first, because then you know that they have the strength and stamina to handle solids.
What do I feed my child? Anything that you are eating. Especially at the beginning start with soft solids (fruits, cooked vegetables, beans, tofu, etc) and then as they get older you can move onto harder food items. There is no need to purchase "special" baby food items, give your child what you are eating!
What if my kid chokes? There is a difference between choking and coughing. Coughing is normal for every child. The key is not freaking out. Your child coughing is sign that they took too big of a bite, and they are trying to clear their airway. Do not pat them on the back to “try and help.” That could actually make them choke. Choking is when your children stops coughing and is no longer making noise. That is a sign their airway is blocked and that is the time to intervene. This would be the time to do the strongly pat their back over your knee and help to dislodge that food item. Choking is not common with Baby Lead Weaning. Coughing is common, especially at the beginning. Your child has to learn how to manipulate that food in their mouth to chew, swallow and breath. It is an acquired skill and takes practice.
You don’t use store-purchased baby food? No purees? Nope. Don’t spend more money on commercial baby food. It is a gimmick and your child doesn’t need it. Offer your child foods that you eat at the dinner table. Start with soft foods, cut in long pieces so they can grab them with their hands and feed themselves. It is great to teach your child independence and encourage them to try new foods. Begin with cooked vegetables, soft fruit, soft grain items like puffs or mumums. These items turn into purees in their mouth and they can safely manipulate them. This also means that you make 1 meal and everyone gets to eat it!
My kid has no teeth, how can they eat table food? Children want to eat what you are eating, why feed your child something different. Yes, your child may not have teeth, but that is why you start with soft food items that they can eat on their own. This teaches them how much food they can fit in their mouth and how to properly chew and swallow. They don’t need teeth for these soft food items you are feeding them.
What if my kid gets messy? Your kid will get so messy, but that is part of learning. Eating is more than just putting the food in your child’s mouth. It involves the smell, the texture, the taste and the different flavors. This also allows the whole family to sit down together at the table. You don’t have to feed your child separately. Family meal times have been proven to help strengthen those family connections and help child grow into better, more well-rounded individuals.
What if my child doesn't like the food? That is fine. It takes children upwards of 15 times of being exposed to a food to really determine if they dislike it. Always offer foods that they like and new foods as well. Remember, if you child chooses not to eat, that is fine. There will be another meal in a few hours and they will not starve.
What is the biggest challenge with Baby Led Weaning? Trying to work in variety. I think it is so easy to get in a food rut, but trying to mix things up and trying new recipes is key. Getting your child to try 100 foods by the time they are one is totally possible.
I think a lot of times as parents we are the ones that end up holding our kids back. We are the ones who limit their creativity or keep them doing crazy things. Yes, some times it is merited to protect them, but with food I feel that it is so important to let them explore, get messy and learn to eat all the different food items. If you have any other questions about Baby Led Weaning, feel free to reach out to me!