Weaning is a fundamental stage of your baby’s development. All parents know that there is going to be a point when they will begin introducing solid foods, and it’s inevitable that your child will get the hang of eating at some point. It’s not like you can go so terribly wrong that they never understand eating and therefore breastfeed forever.
So, what’s all the worry about? As with most things, parents worry about safety when it comes to weaning. Anxiety over not knowing for sure what foods your baby can or can’t eat at certain ages in their development, and how they can be given in the way with least risk. Another concern is instilling good and healthy eating habits into your child. None of us want a picky eater on our hands, or worse, childhood obesity.
And with differing advise falling on us left, right and centre, it’s hard to know which guidelines to trust.
Before you decide, you should know what your options mean for you and your baby.
Purée Or Spoon-Led Weaning
Seemingly the most common type of weaning, this method is where parents will either make purées by cooking food until tender, then blending with a little water or milk, or will simply buy jars of purées from the supermarket (read our Homemade Vs. Store Bought post here). Mummy or daddy feeds the purée to baby with a soft baby spoon, allowing them to have a go with the spoon themselves as they develop and learn. These smooth purees are then progressed to mashed or chopped easy to munch textures in the following months, and then to finger foods after the 8-month mark.
Advantages of Purée & Spoon Led Weaning:
- The ability to introduce a wider range of foods, as there are many solid foods that are too difficult for a baby to chew.
- If your baby shows the right signs of being ready, purées can be introduced between 4 and 6 months.
- Can be a less messy task as you are in control (but, then again, when there’re children involved…)
- Smooth purées are a lower risk for gagging or choking
Baby Led Weaning (BLW)
This method is to do exactly what it says on the tin- let your little one lead the way. Skipping out the puréeing phase, BLW is allowing your baby to explore the tastes and textures of solid foods completely at their own pace. So without trying to force foods on a spoon, you make finger foods available and your child will decide at their own will.
Advantages of Baby Led Weaning:
- No need to make purées, so you save much more of your sacred time, as you can give your baby the suitable foods from the rest of the family’s meals.
- This means that your baby can be a part of family mealtimes from as early as possible.
- For BLW you MUST wait until 6+ months.
- Avoids the problems that quite often come with the transition between purées and solid foods, as it can be difficult to move away from smooth foods when your baby becomes used to them.
Of course, you can mix both of these methods to fit in with your family’s lifestyle. Most people who choose the mixed method will be offering purées daily from when their child shows the signs of being ready for weaning, as well as offering solid finger foods from the beginning, too. You can also reap many benefits from mixing methods too:
- Encouraging cutlery use
- Introducing iron-rich foods from the first stage in purees
- Allowing your baby more choice
- Saving time with not making as many purées
You can mix the methods as best suits you and your family. If you really want to undertake BLW, but keep store bought purées in the cupboard for days where you want to offer them something quickly, then that’s fine.
If you want to make nutritious homemade purées to introduce more iron-rich foods with a wider variety of tastes, then that’s fine, too.
We all have morals of how we aspire to raise our children, and veering off that path can be disappointing. Bear in mind that all parents are finding it difficult to be the ‘perfect’ parent 24/7- you have to do what works for you and your little ones.