The Ultimate Baby-Led Weaning Guide
Have you heard about Baby-Led Weaning & are interested in trying it out but have no clue how?
After reading this post you will know everything about Baby-Led Weaning and how to approach it the right way!
Baby-Led Weaning is definitely one of those things that everyone seems to talk about on the internet. There are Pinterest pins, blog posts, and a whole bunch of YouTube videos out there. Chances are, you even saw some Instagram photos of tiny babies munching on a whole banana.
Aren’t babies supposed to eat mashed foods only? Well, I asked myself the same question during pregnancy. I thought babies are having breastmilk (or formula) until they are around 4-5 months old. Once they reached that age, we start introducing them to puree and maybe some rice cereal. (While continuing breast- or formula feeding)
But I am not gonna lie, all these posts about „Baby Led Weaning“ and seeing those smeared little baby faces made me curious. I wanted to know what’s up with that trend and started doing some research.
Today, I am a huge advocate for Baby-Led Weaning. I simply love it. Not only because of the many benefits but it’s also a lot of fun for our daughter and us.
Today I will share my Ultimate Baby-Led Weaning Guide with you.
What Is Baby-Led Weaning?
As the term indicates, Baby-Led Weaning, better described as Baby-Led Feeding, allows our babies to feed themselves. So instead of preparing different food groups and blending them into baby purees, you hand your baby the food in its natural form. This allows your baby to decide on what and how much they want to eat of the foods they are offered.
The Weaning part does not mean you will stop breast- or formula feeding your baby. Babies still get most of their nutrients from milk. It takes a few months of practice until your baby gets enough food in their stomach to reduce the number of milk-feedings they need in a day. It is recommended to breastfeed your baby for about 24 months. However, if you want to continue breastfeeding beyond that, it is completely up to you.
Would you like to know more about Breastfeeding? Here are some relevant posts for you:
When To Start Baby-Led Weaning?
Your baby needs to be ready to start Baby-Led Weaning.
There are some requirements for your baby that need to be followed :
- need be at least 6 months old
- should be able to sit in a high chair (unassisted)
- must have good neck strength & control
- the capability of bringing toys & other objects to their mouth
- lost the thrust reflux and is ready to chew
- should show interest in table food
How To Prepare Foods For Baby-Led Weaning?
Of course, you won’t peel a whole carrot and just hand it to your baby. Your baby probably doesn’t have teeth yet and even if, they can still choke on a big chunk of carrot.
Here are some basic rules:
- baby needs to be able to „chew“ the offered foods with bare gums
- start with soft fruits and vegetables
- later, offer steamed „hard“ vegetables and starches
- slice vegetables and fruits into stripes, so baby can grab them independently
- never offer your baby big chunks they could possibly choke on
- don’t place food into your baby’s mouth, they should grab and place the foods in their mouth themselves
Which Foods Should Be Offered For Baby-Led Weaning?
There are many ideas out there for the kind of foods you can offer your baby. Just type in „Baby-Led Weaning Food Ideas“ in your favorite search engine and you will find some great resources.
However, I designed a quick overview of the first foods we introduced to our daughter in her first month of Baby Led Weaning. These foods are the main ingredients in all of her meals. We usually just switch out the staples and introduce new foods every week.
Just so you know, we are a plant-based family. So the design I created only shows vegan foods. We are in cooperation with our pediatrician to make sure that our daughter gets everything she needs and does not miss out on any important nutrients.
Check out these 7 Vegan Baby-Led Weaning Dinner Ideas for some more inspiration.
What Are The Benefits Of Baby-Led Weaning?
All the great benefits of Baby Led Weaning were one of the reasons we decided to give it a try.
Here are the main benefits:
- helps fine-tune motor development
- supports the development of hand-eye-coordination
- improves dexterity
- helps to practice chewing skills
- creates healthy (intuitive) eating habits
- offers babies the opportunity to explore the taste, texture, aroma, and color of foods
Why Did We Choose Baby-Led Weaning?
Besides the above-mentioned benefits, there were a few other reasons we decided to chose Baby-Led Weaning over Baby Food (Puree).
- It gives us parents the opportunity to enjoy our own meal while our daughter is busy with her food.
- Watching our baby discover the texture and taste of new foods brings us a lot of joy.
- We know exactly what our daughter eats and can avoid hidden ingredients and added sugars.
- Preparing/Buying „normal“ baby food can cost a lot of time and/or money.
- Our Baby eats whatever we eat, which really improves our family mealtimes.
- Allergies and strong dislikes will show immediately and can be separated easier. (Instead of a mixed baby puree with different foods)
Our Baby-Led Weaning Experience
I’m not gonna lie, this whole Baby-Led Weaning approach gave me some strong anxiety in the beginning. Whenever my daughter ate a banana or had a big slice of potato in her hand, I always thought she would choke on it. Sometimes I took the food away from her and cut it into tiny little pieces before I gave it back to her.
We have been doing Baby Led Weaning for over 6 weeks now and it has been great. My anxiety is (almost) gone. Obviously, I am still keeping an eye on her but I am way more relaxed about it. This whole thing takes a couple of weeks of adjusting for you and your baby. Chances are your baby is only gonna suck on some foods before throwing them on the floor or playing around with them. But that’s fine and completely normal.
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For more inspiration, check out the Baby-Led Weaning Meal Ideas I mentioned earlier.
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