Baby-Led Weaning: How To Help Your Baby Feed Themselves
Stow the blender. Put down the spoon. Many parents are finding out that the best way to wean their babies is to let them feed themselves. There are countless methods to help your little one transition from the bottle or breast to the highchair. Yet, baby-led weaning is quickly becoming the most popular. And for good reason: this method lets little ones explore their senses, refine their motor skills, and get used to various textures and tastes, all while saving parents time and money.
What is baby-led weaning?
Baby-led weaning–or baby-led feeding–means skipping traditional transitional foods, such as purees and store-bought products, and instead letting babies feed themselves finger foods. Babies join family meals and eat a baby-modified version of whatever's on the table.
When to start baby-led weaning
Babies are usually ready to begin baby-led weaning at around six months. However, each baby is different and might be developmentally ready at a later time. It's essential to wait until the baby shows clear cues they're ready to feed themselves. The following are signs to look for:
- Ability to sit upright with minimal support
- Ability to hold their head steady
- Baby reaches for objects, picks them up, and places them in their mouth
- Baby makes chewing or gnashing motions with their mouth
How to start baby-led weaning
As always, speak with your pediatrician before making any changes to your baby's diet. Once you have the green light from the doctor and your baby is showing signs she's developmentally ready, you can begin letting her sample family meals.
Always modify foods so they're baby safe. You should only offer soft foods cut up into small pieces to avoid choking. Cut food into spears or strips so your baby can easily grip them in their hands. Be patient, and don't be afraid to let your baby make a mess. Self-feeding is an excellent way for babies to explore their senses and fine motor skills, so let them keep trying even if more food is getting on the floor than in their mouths.
What to use for baby-led weaning
It’s important to invest in safe and practical baby feeding products. Use a large bib such as a bapron, so you can let the little one go at it without worrying about a wardrobe change. Save yourself a headache by choosing plates and bowls with suction bottoms to avoid flipped-over meals. Forgo using hard plastic utensils as babies can easily poke themselves. The best starter utensils are soft, such as this food-grade silicone fork and spoon set (which also has the added benefit of being super adorable!).
The benefits of baby-led weaning
Baby-led weaning is great for parents because it means less time and money spent on purees and store-bought baby foods. It's also beneficial for babies’ development. Babies learn how to practice self-regulation, which means knowing when to stop eating when they're full. And, all that gripping and waggling of fingers lets them practice their fine motor skills. Lastly, baby-led weaning introduces babies to the idea of mealtime with the family.
The best foods for baby-led weaning
The best foods to feed your baby are small enough to avoid choking yet large enough for your baby to hold in his hand with enough sticking out for him to see. Food should be soft enough for them to chew or gum. Here are some great baby-led weaning foods:
- Ground meat, or soft meat that you can easily pull apart
- Small strips of roasted, baked, or steamed veggies (such as carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes)
- Soft ripe fruits cut into spears such as avocado, mango, kiwi, and banana
- Pureed textured food such as yogurt and applesauce
Little Bubba Shop believes in helping parents cultivate a healthy and fun environment for their little ones. We're committed to only offering eco-friendly products that are organic and free of harmful substances, such as phthalates, parabens, and plastics like BPA.
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