[photo: Madie at 7 months, feeding herself a chunk of broccoli]
After first hearing about Baby-Led Weaning [see my first musings here: ] I asked my friend Ang, who has been experimenting with it with her daughter Madie since she was 5.5 months old (she is now 8.5 months old) what the main advantages are. Below is her response:
“With baby-led weaning, the main advantage for the mother is: no purees!; for the baby: feeding herself from the start. Afterall, the baby is feeding herself, managing her own nutrient and liquid intake from the breast so it makes sense for that independence to carry on with food. She chooses what to eat and takes the amount she wants etc. That’s what the book’s [http://www.amazon.com/Baby-led-Weaning-Helping-Your-Baby/dp/0091923808/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1278096645&sr=8-1] view is.
My view is: when first introducing foods, why not let them touch your food if/when they want to. It’s more of a game at first and less stressful, I think, than suddenly cooking lots and giving purees.
However, I would say that a mother who chooses baby-led weaning because it sounds easier is in for a surprise! The mess caused is more work to clean up than cooking batches of pureed foods. Well, I think it is. I don’t know for sure because I haven’t pureed anything! I’m mashing stuff now. We gave pre-prepared purees to Madie when we started supplementing the cooked finger foods.
The other advantages in theory is that they learn to enjoy their food from the start whereas purees can be hard to feed to babies and they can end up not enjoying meals and becoming fussy eaters. I don’t buy that. The mothers I know who feed purees stop trying feeding the purees the babies don’t like and give them something else. However, the baby-led way says that you’re supposed to eat each meal with the baby which means there’s a social side for them to enjoy as well. That I can understand would help them enjoy the meal. However, it’s not always logistically possible to do that!!
Finally, with baby-led weaning the baby learns what the veg looks like from the start rather than everything looking the same with a slighly different colour. I guess I enjoy seeing Madie choose which veg to eat knowing what it is going to taste like. That is nice. With the puree it’s always a surprise for her and by the look on her face, not always a good one ;) It’s nice to see her feel so autonomous already!
That’s all I can think of in terms of baby-led vs spoon-fed. My answer: do what works for you, trust your intuition, and maybe avoid reading the books as they seem to always stress the mothers – whether it’s purees or baby-led!!”
Ahh, I have wise friends. Thanks for your thoughts, Ang!
NB Don’t try this at home without consulting with your pediatrician and reading the book (so you are sure you know how to do it safely). Thank you.