I’ve had a few people ask me recently whether I’ve done baby- led weaning or traditional weaning. The answer is that I have done both, and I thought I’d explain why.
Before having a baby, and if I’m honest, until Will was about 5 months old, weaning hadn’t really crossed my mind. Then out of the blue, my milk-guzzling newborn started staring at us when we ate, really piercing stares! His little mouth would open and close and he would try to grab food off our plates or out of our mouths! As a clueless new Mum, I did what I always do when I want to learn about something new; I bought a couple of books! I read about traditional weaning and baby-led weaning.
In brief, baby-led weaning involves providing your baby with foods they can eat themselves. The benefits of this include improving your baby’s dexterity and coordination as well as ensuring they aren’t over fed, leading to healthier eating habits as an adult. It also introduces babies to a variety of food textures and teaches them to chew. Traditional weaning on the other hand involves introducing babies to puréed foods which are spoon fed, and slowly introducing texture to these.
As a self-confessed greedy person who has always loved variety, baby led weaning really struck a chord with me. I love my food to be interesting and thought that giving Will finger foods would be a fun and exciting way to introduce him to solids. The pharmacist in me however, wanted to ensure that Will was getting to vitamins and minerals that he needed, most importantly iron. Because for me, this is where baby led weaning could fall down. I have, on many occasions put a healthy, balanced tray of food in front of Will, and he’s rejected all but one food. You can’t force a baby to eat beef or egg if they don’t want to, and in the early days of weaning when babies are being slowly introduced to foods, it can be hard to disguise foods that they don’t like. A purée however can ensure your baby has the nutrients they require. Baby- led weaning can also be incredibly wasteful, especially when eating out. If Will drops food at home, he has a mat under his highchair so I pick it up and hand it back to him – in a restaurant, once it’s been dropped, that’s it. It can be so disheartening to see the food you’ve made thrown away within a couple of seconds of starting a meal!
I started weaning Will with a mixture of purées and finger foods, he enjoyed both and it became apparent that the most important thing to me wasn’t whether he was fed from a spoon or not, it was whether we were sitting at the table, enjoying family meals together. I wanted to cook one meal and us all enjoy it. So sometimes Will has our food blended, and other times he has our food as finger foods. It completely depends on the meal. Essentially; food we eat with a spoon, he eats with a spoon!
There seems to be a lot of judgement surrounding weaning these days, and people seem to follow either baby-led or traditional weaning, but I can’t help thinking that a mixture of the two can be a great option too!
This has worked really well for our family but I would never judge what another family choose to do. Becoming a parent makes you realise that all Mums and Dads are constantly trying to do the best for their children! How did you wean your children? What were your reasons for doing so? I’d love to hear about your weaning journey!