Is your baby about to start solids? Read about Mommy Michelle’s weaning journey and why she decided to try baby-led weaning for her daughter.
What can you read in this article?
Traditional weaning or baby-led weaning
The struggles and triumphs of baby-led weaning
As a first-time mum, I’ll be honest – one of the scariest, most daunting things about feeding your child was the prospect of weaning on to solids!
I had been happily breastfeeding for the first 5 months. It wasn’t easy but we had found our rhythm. Just as we were already comfortable in our routine, it was time to change things up and start on something more than milk.
Traditional or baby-led weaning?
So, I spoke with our pediatrician and had my baby assessed for readiness. Once we were satisfied she was ready, I started to research and speak to other mums. I quickly realized the main choices were between traditional or baby-led weaning (BLW).
Traditional weaning is spoon-feeding a baby puree, whereas baby-led weaning is allowing the child to feed themselves either from a spoon or finger foods.
The idea of BLW was new to me. I had only ever seen weaning do in the typical, “open up for the choo-choo train’ fashion. The more I read and asked about it, the more torn I became!
There were contrasting opinions on both sides. Some said baby-led weaning would help my child be less picky. Others insisted “It’s a choking hazard, an accident waiting to happen!” Eventually, after finding some super helpful Instagram accounts to follow, I decided to give BLW a try.
Image from the author
Our struggles and wins with baby-led weaning
We started with some simple rusks that were easy for baby to hold, then moved up to big pieces of watermelon and chunky slices of steamed apples. After a while, we started pre-loading spoons and allowing her to feed herself!
I was surprised at how quickly she took to it! Before long, she could aim the spoon expertly at her mouth. More often than not though she would choose to forgo the spoon and just use her hands.
The mess was a nightmare! Mashed carrots shooting across the room, squished watermelon in her hair and eyes.
This was the point that became challenging for my husband and me. He was not a fan of the mess and wanted to revert to traditional weaning. He argued it was just another thing to clean up during our already hectic days.
But after some serious discussion, we decided we could see how well the baby was doing and how much she was enjoying the process. So we ultimately decided to stick with it.
Now at one year old, my daughter eats almost everything we put in front of her with one exception…BELL PEPPER! She even refuses anything that’s been cooked in the same pan as the bell pepper.
Also, she adores fruits especially mango and papaya. She eats a wide range of different foods from oatmeal, rice, fish, chicken and enjoys varied textures.
Image from the author
For me, baby-led weaning was the right choice for my family. It allowed us the freedom to eat our own food while she happily fed herself finger foods.
It has also been a great way to introduce new foods to the whole family’s diet. BLW is all about exposing babies to a wide variety of new foods. So while wandering up and down the supermarket aisles, I would notice vegetables and fruits I wouldn’t usually choose. As a family, we now regularly enjoy asparagus and dragon fruit.
The biggest challenge for us with baby-led weaning is the stress in the early days of watching our baby gag. However, with some expert advice, we were able to understand the difference between a gagging reflex to help babies avoid choking and a real choking episode.
But it doesn’t make it easier to see. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted. We have, however, never had a real choking episode as we were careful to cut the finger foods to the recommended sizes.
“Fed is best”
Image from the author
One positive thing about traditional weaning though is that it’s mostly store-bought purees that are checked and made with child-safe ingredients. I remember once leaving my daughter in the care of a family member, only to return to be told she had had a taste of honey at 7 months old! Had she had pre-prepared food to eat like a jar of puree, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.
At the end of the day, “Fed is best,” whatever way you choose to wean. Talk to your healthcare provider and work out what’s best for you and your family.
Weaning in any form is a great adventure to embark on with your baby. However, you choose to do it have fun exploring new tastes and textures together.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michelle Roque is a British mummy of 2 – a one-year old and a 12-year old, currently living in Manila.