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It is completely normal to feel anxious about starting weaning your baby. As your baby reaches that six-month mark you will probably find yourself researching all the different ways you will start to introduce solid food. The baby-led weaning method is what my recipes are focused around and will help those little hands take control of food, all on their own.

That can sound a little scary for parents, but I promise it is just as safe as the traditional route. This blog is the absolute best guide to starting baby led weaning in the world ever! It will hopefully put your mind at ease and give you all the guidelines necessary to get you and your baby ready to start your weaning journey. 

Baby-led weaning is so much fun, so take a deep breath, grab your camera for those messy face photos and get ready to turn your baby into a little foodie!

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

What is baby led weaning

Baby led weaning is a type of weaning where you skip pureeing chicken with avocado, banana then spoon feed it to your baby. With this method of weaning you instead, cook the chicken in a way that is super safe, cut into small pieces, and place it in front of your baby with a spear of avocado then let them eat it all on their own.  

It is called baby-led because your baby leads the way right from the very start. They choose how much and what they put in their mouths – obivously with the help of a parent who will serve all the right nutritious food for weaning.

Baby-Led weaning is a natural exploration of food. This is encouraged by giving your baby wholesome and naturally delicious foods that they will grab, explore and put into their mouths all by themselves.

Why should I do Baby led weaning – benefits for children and parents

Benefits of Baby Led Weaning For Babies

  • Self Regulation – There are no spoons, no choo-choo trains, no ‘Daddy’s gonna eat your dinner’. Your baby gets to choose from here on in.
  • Promotes fine motor skills – baby-led weaning gives your baby the opportunity to play with food.
  • Learning to chew first and then swallow – If food is soft enough to squish between your finger and thumb then your baby’s gums, even without teeth, are strong enough to break it down.
  • Encourages your baby to try a wide variety of foods – by the time your baby is 12 months of age they will have tried about 100 different foods!
  • Less picky eater – As your baby tries new foods, they will experience a world of new textures.

Benefits of Baby Led Weaning For Parents

  • Baby led weaning is SO easy – Your baby eats what you eat.
  • Eating a warm dinner – The biggest plus for me is being able to eat my own dinner while my little one munches away on his own food.
  • Having a less picky eater –  This is a benefit not only for the child but also for the parents.
  • Knowing you have a good eater on your hands – Many a person has been astounded over the past few years as my child demolishes an entire baby bowl of beetroot pasta.

What age can I start baby led weaning and why?

Your baby must be 6 months old to do baby led weaning! This is the most important advice I can give you when starting baby led weaning.

  • Your baby’s digestive system is not mature enough
  • Your baby gets 100% of Nutrition from milk until 6 months
  • Your baby is not developed enough to feed themself – It can be super frustrating for a baby when they can’t get food to their mouth on their own.
  • Baby-led weaning is so much safer at 6 months – Waiting a month or two will make baby-led weaning as safe as possible for your lovely little baby.

If you feel your baby needs to be eating solid foods sooner, then speak to your paediatrician who can advise you on starting more traditional weaning methods sooner. Then come back here to Baby Led Feeding when your baby is 100% ready to feed on their own. 

How do I know my baby is ready to start solid  food?

One of the biggest indicators of readiness is see your baby follow the food you are eating yourself. I have spoken to lot’s of parents who said ‘YES, i actually saw her watching me eating, looking at the fork going from my plate into my mouth’. But, there are other important things to look out for too!

  • Your baby is six months old
  • Your baby is able to sit up unsupported
  • Your baby has good neck strength
  • Your baby has lost the reflex to push foods to the front of their mouth
  • Your baby is reaching out and grabbing foods
  • Your baby is chewing, even if they have no teeth

Step 1 – Basic Principles

Continue giving your baby milk – how much milk should my baby be drinking

Breastmilk is the only food and drink a baby needs for the first 6 months of thier life. Baby formula is the only alternative to breast milk and should be the only drink you give your baby until they are 1 years old. From birth to 6 months, milk provides your baby with 100% of all of their nutritional needs.

From 6 months – 12 months – baby gets 75% of nutrition from milk 25% from food. When introducing solid food;

Breastfed babies
Continue to breastfeed on demand. Usually, feed your baby about 60-90 minutes (depending on your milk supply) before offering solid food.

Bottle fed babies
210ml beaker 3 times per day (roughly)

It is o.k to use regular cows milk in cooking when preparing food for your baby. However, cows milk cannot be given as a main drink to babies under the age of 1.

Cut veggies and fruits into spears

Cut vegetables into long chipper chip (thick French fry) sizes. Lay flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then drizzle over a small amount of olive oil but skip the salt and pepper for now. Roast at 180ºC/250ºF for about 30 minutes until soft. Some vegetables take less time to roast than others.

Keep food soft!

Remember this most of all! You should be able to squash food between your finger and thumb and then it is the perfect consistency for a baby without teeth. 

Best first foods to start baby led weaning?

Most parents are nervous when starting baby led weaning and that is completely o.k and also understandable. Spend the first 2 weeks learning your baby’s cues, watching their capabilities of eating and when you are both at ease you can progress to all the amazing baby led weaning recipes below.

Start with savoury foods (non-sweet)

Babies tend to prefer sweet tastes from birth like the breast milk or forumla they are already used to. So, starting with vegetables is a great way to to provide your baby with food experiences that can help them enjoy vegetables more as they get older. We are trying our best to create a little foodie here so stick with me!

Here are my top first foods that are super soft and also how to serve them (graph) Deep breaths Momma you can do this!

Vegetables (pick 2 spears of any of these)

• Roasted sweet potato
• Roasted butternut squash
• Spears avodado (sprinkle flaxseed on the outside to prevent slipping)
• Steamed broccoli florets (natures perfect handle)
* Softly steamed carrot spears
• Courgette
• Potato spears
• Parsnip
• Cauliflower
• Roasted peppers (skins removed)
• Turnip roasted and spear
• Cucumber

Protein (1 portion)

• Egg made into omelette and sliced
• Flaked salmon
• Mashed chickpeas formed into balls
• Thinly stredded softly roasted chicken (preferably the brown meat)
• Hummus spread on veggie spears
• Homemade meatballs
• Tofu

Dairy

• Yogurt on a pre-loaded spoon
• Goat cheese balls

Choking and baby-led weaning – how to do baby-led weaning safely

Are you terrified that your child will choke on solid food? You are not alone, because the most common question asked at Baby Led feeding is won’t my child choke if I let him feed himself?. This is a real concern for parents but if done safely, baby led weaning does not have a higher risk of choking compared to tradtional weaning.  

To prevent choking it is really important to be as safe as possible when weaning your baby. Besides ensuring your baby is 6 months old, there are a few more common-sense safety tips that you should follow.

ONLY give soft foods

If you can squash food between your finger and thumb then your baby’s gums are strong enough to chew it. No hard veggies or fruits including; raw carrot, raw apples, raw peppers.

Don’t put food in your babies mouth.

Your baby should be in control of the food they put in their own mouth. Let them explore soft easy to manage foods all by themselves.

Avoid foods that pose a choking hazard.

This includes whole nuts, whole grapes, whole berries, popcorn and hard chunks of fruit or vegetables. EVERY food should be squash-able between your finger and thumb.

Never leave your baby alone

Stay with your baby when they are eating and never leave the room.

DO A FIRST AID COURSE!

I put this is all CAPS because regardless of whether you are worried about choking or not, doing a first aid course is one of the best things you can do as a parent. First aid is a great skill to have and will also completely put your mind at ease when it comes to weaning your baby.

First foods broccoli first foods for baby led weaning broccoli Fussy eaters Starting baby led weaning Finger foods baby led weaning first foods Freezer Filler Recipes Buddah Bowl Buddha Bowl Toddler Food Baby Bowl Recipes

Writen by Aileen Cox Blundell - number one bestselling author, award winning blogger and Mum of 3 kiddies who all eat their veggies.

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