Baby-led weaning vs spoon feeding, how to feed your baby.
One of the most exciting baby milestones for parents, is introducing solid food. But it can be a bit of a minefield knowing where to start.
What are the current recommendations?
At 6 months of age breast milk or formula is a baby’s main form of nutrition and solid food is given to begin the process of moving away from milk. If nursing, it is recommend by the World Health Organisation to breastfeed till 2 years old minimum and for those using formula till 12 months old. Solid food complements either forms of milk and is not essential till around 12 months depending on the baby’s iron stores. So there is no need to rush if your baby is just not interested.
So how do you know if your baby is ready to start eating solid food?
There are several signs your baby will exhibit to let you know he is willing and that his digestive tract is ready to process and eliminate solid food.
He is able to sit up unassisted. This shows the oesophagus is strong enough and prepared to take food through to the stomach.
He no longer has the tongue-thrust reflex. This is clear when he first puts food into his mouth, if the tongue-thrust reflex is present he will simply push the food out automatically with his tongue.
He is showing signs of developing the “pincer” grip. This means he is attempting to pick up pieces of food with his thumb and forefinger.
He is keen to be part of meal times and is showing signs that he is ready to chew.
What do I do once my baby is ready?
There are two main philosophies that are used these days, old style spoon feeding, and the more modern baby-led weaning. Although historically baby-led weaning was actually the norm, and spoon feeding wasn’t introduced until the late 19th century when the authorities started advising people to feed babies from 6 weeks old. At least we know now that this is far from a good idea!
Baby-led weaning is a philosophy of feeding which gives control to the baby. The baby decides what, how much and how he will eat. When I say what he eats, of course this is technically down to the parents, but the aim is to allow baby to choose foods that take his fancy from a selection provided by you.
My book ‘Flavour Babies’ found in our Flavour Babies Gift Box, goes over the details of how to introduce solid food and what the guidelines are for spoon feeding and baby-led weaning. It has all the information to help you make an informed decision on what protocol you wish to introduce without having to research the pros and cons yourself.
As a Naturopath and Nutritionist, I don’t believe it matters which protocol you follow, it just needs to work for you and your baby. But I strongly believe and advocate for babies being given flavourful food. Develop their palate for herbs and spices from infancy, and watch how your baby grows into a little foodie.
What is in the Flavour Babies Gift Box?
Silicon catcher bib - This cute little Zebra bib is perfect for reducing mess.
Wooden plate - Oiled by hand using 100% organic hemp seed oil, this plate will be a favourite for years to come.
Fork & spoon - Simple but safe BPA free cutlery for your little one to explore and practice with.
Crinkle cut knife - Turn vegetables and fruit into easy to grip sticks and rounds.
Organic cotton wash cloths - Don’t be fooled by the fact that there are 10, they will ALL get used, ALL the time.
Flavour babies Zine - The low down on starting solid foods and nurturing a little flavour filled baby foodie. Written by Naturopath, Nutritionist and Herbalist Melanie Webster.