It’s time to start solids and you might be feeling torn between spoon-feeding purees or baby led weaning. In this article, you’ll learn the pros and cons of the two approaches.
Regardless of which method you choose, what’s most important is that it allows you and the child to follow responsive feeding practices from the start.
Food is so much more than fuel for the body. It’s a way to connect, make memories, share happiness and sadness, and feel safe and loved. As parents, being able to nourish our children through food is one of the greatest joys in parenthood.
It’s no wonder that we look forward to starting solids with much anticipation and excitement. And what a huge milestone it is!
At this time, parents may choose either traditional method of spoon-feeding smooth purees (moving up to lumps, chunks, finger foods and family foods) or baby led weaning approach where the baby is introduced to finger foods from the start.
Unfortunately, there are so many mixed messages out there and debates about which method is more superior. Before I share my personal opinion, let’s consider the pros and cons of each.
- Peace of mind that the food will be consumed safely.
- Can know for certain how much food was actually consumed.
- Less messy.
- Possibly more positive support from family members.
- Easier when other caregivers are involved in the baby’s feeding.
- While it can be baby led, it’s easier for parents to take control and ignore baby’s hunger/fullness cues.
- Time-consuming to cook, blend, freeze separate foods.
- Harder to eat at the same time as the baby as you have to actively feed your baby.
BABY LED WEANING
- Food preparation is not as time-consuming as you can offer family foods with modifications.
- Babies set the pace. Being in full control of how much and whether or not to eat allows the child to be in tune with and respect her inner hunger and fullness cues. It fosters confidence and body trust. That means better appetite control and potentially less health and weight concerns in the future.
- Introduce babies to different textures from the start so the transition through texture may go more smoothly. Research also shows that being exposed to a wide variety of flavors and textures before the age of 1 promotes greater acceptance of foods and may minimize picky eating later on in life (source).
- Parents can eat at the same time as baby.
- As the baby explores food through sight, touch, smell, and taste, it’s not only invaluable for sensory development but also for developing hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and chewing skills. Not to mention, when not pressured to eat a set amount or specific food, it boosts confidence and enjoyment during mealtimes.
- Concerns around gagging and choking. Gagging is a normal and expected part of learning to eat. And when blw is done properly (check out my post “how to serve the right size and texture“), the risk of choking is actually no higher than spoon feeding with purees (source). Despite knowing this, seeing your child gagging is extremely terrifying for you.
- Not knowing for certain whether your baby consumed enough food. It’s true that not much food will actually be swallowed during the first several weeks.
- The mess is real!!
- Food waste.
- The length of mealtime. I remember our meals lasted at least 30 minutes.
- Possible opposition/lack of support from family members.
It’s so important to weight the pros & cons of each method before deciding on a choice for your family. Remember, there is no right or wrong & maybe it’s not either or – it can always be a healthy balance between the two!
YOU DO YOU, MAMA.
If you would like more information on Baby Led Weaning please download our FREE Quick Start Guide below.
Min is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, mama and blogger at MJ and Hungryman. She is the creator and author of many cookbooks that help parents (just like you) feed their toddlers and infants nutritious & easy meals.