Baby Led Weaning

Friday, 30 November 2012
Baby Led Weaning.
Weaning is an exciting time for parents and babies and is recommended to be started from 6months, however it can be started at 4 months if your baby is ready but it is always best to speak with your Health Visitor. At six months your babies digestive system is believed to be matured enough to begin to cope with solid food and the required development changes are gained. The main aim of weaning is to introduce gradually a varied range of textures and tastes so that by the age of one your baby is enjoying a healthy varied diet. If your child was born premature it is always best to speak with Health Professionals when you should begin weaning your child.
Personally, I began weaning Jack at 4 months of age after discussing it with our Health Visitor. This was due to Jack's reflux problems and him also showing great interest in our food. I began weaning Jack with baby rice and other forms of purees which helped with the reflux and hunger issues and upon reaching 6 months I began to wean Jack the Baby Led way. This has been a great help for us and also Jack's personal development.
So what exactly is Baby Led Weaning?
Baby Led Weaning is a way of introducing the solid foods in which your baby requires but with no spoons and no purees. The baby sits with the family at mealtimes or other chosen times during the day and joins in when they are ready, feeding themselves with their fingers and eventually cutlery. With Baby Led Weaning you baby learns to explore taste, smell, colour and texture and also encourages their independance and confidence. Given the opportunity all healthy babies are able to feed themselves from around 6 months. If you are waiting until 6 months to feed your child there isn't really a need to feed purees as your baby is able to sit up and pick up pieces of food and place them within their own mouth.
How to start with Baby Led Weaning.
Sit baby upright - this can either be on your lap or in a highchair; make sure your child is steady and can use their arms and hands freely.
Offer food rather than give food - place food infront of your child or let them take it from your hand, this then makes it your chils decision to eat.
Start with easy to handle foods - thick slices or long strips are best at first as they are easy to grip. New shapes and textures should be introduced gradually.
Choose suitable times - choose a time when your baby isn't tired or hungry so baby is able to concentrate. At this stage meals are for learning and play.
Offer Breast or Formula beforehand - this is your babies main source of nouricement until a year old.
Offer water - do this with meals so they are able to have a drink if needed.
Don't hurry or distract your baby - allow your baby to concentrate and take time when handling food.
Include baby in your mealtimes - if possible, offer your child the same foods in which you are eating so they are able to copy what you do.
Don't force your child to eat more- don't place more food within your child's mouth to persuade them to eat more than they like.

When feeding your baby it is important to avoid adding salt and sugar; also it is important to check food labels as many have high salt content such as baked beans, sauces and pies. Avoid convience meals such as 'fast foods' or ready meals and also avoid honey, shellfish, under-cooked eggs, marlin and shark.

I believe Baby Led Weaning is a really enjoyable experience, and both Jack and I throughly enjoy it. If you are attempting Baby Led Weaning, expect mess! Mat's under a babies highchair will become great, so you can hand food back to the child. If all else fails get a dog.
NEVER leave your baby alone with food.

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