Baby-Led Weaning: Why It Works

baby-led weaning for babies

Is Baby-led Weaning Right for Your Baby?

Let’s chat all about babies and baby-led weaning.

baby-led weaning

For some, it’s a completely new concept.

For others, it’s a part of their culture.

As an American mom, it’s definitely something new to my mom journey!

At six months old, pediatricians use to give us a list of foods to introduce to babies and give us a complete schedule to follow.

Bananas first.

Squash next.

Rinse and repeat.

I followed those guidelines religiously.

But with baby-led weaning, adding solids to a baby’s diet looks quite a bit different.

I still recommend only adding one food per five days so you can monitor your baby’s reactions to each food.

This helps you and your child know from the very beginning if food allergies or sensitivities are present

Moving on…

How Baby-led Weaning is Different Than Traditional Weaning

When a family decides to do baby-led weaning, they let their six-month-old babies start on finger foods immediately.

No baby food needed.

But, baby-led weaning only works for babies who are at least six months old and can feed themselves.

Parents who follow the baby-led weaning let their baby feed herself the foods she wants to eat.

Skipping the mushy and pureed baby foods helps babies learn how to chew and swallow more quickly.

Kind of genius, really…:)

how to start baby-led weaning

When is Your Baby Ready for Weaning?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends to begin adding solid foods to your baby’s diet at approximately six months of age.

Why?

Because most babies are able to sit up unassisted and can grab and hold onto objects at six months old.

Remember the pincer grasp you thought was so cute?

Yep…that’s one sign you’re child is ready for baby-led feeding!

Most six-month-old babies have dropped the tongue-thrust reflex and their tummies have developed the necessary digestive enzymes to absorb solid food.

Pretty interesting, right?

Still Not Sure if Your Baby is Ready for Baby-led Weaning?

Always check with your baby’s pediatrician before starting a new eating routine or diet.

Your pediatrician knows your baby and can give you the best advice possible.

Why Should You Try Baby-Led Weaning?

Parents who love practicing baby-led weaning often brag on the following:

Baby-led Weaning Tends to Prevent Overweight Kids

With spoon-feeding, the parent is in control and the babies may eat more than they really need. Baby-led weaning lets the baby decide when she’s full or hungry.

Baby-led Weaning Helps Babies Develop Hand-eye Coordination

Every meal your baby is feeding herself and strengthening her hand-eye coordination.

Plus, she’s learning independence!

Baby-led Weaning Encourages Babies to Chew

Learning how to chew can help your baby’s digestive system function more properly and prevent unnecessary and painful gas!

Negative Feedback About Baby-led Weaning

It wouldn’t be fair if we only focused on the positives…right?!

Your baby is a perpetual mess.

Babies don’t care if they’re squeaky clean, they just want to eat!

Things get messy fast when an adult isn’t feeding a baby!

Iron deficiency is possible.  

Iron levels can start to dip at four months of age.

Plus, it’s a little bit of a struggle for babies to chew iron-rich foods.

This is the exception of pureed food during the baby-led weaning.

Use your blender to puree meat, green veggies, and fortified cereals to help add the iron back into your baby’s diet.

Ask your baby’ pediatrician about iron deficiency possibilities and how you can work together to give your baby an iron-rich diet.

Does Allowing Baby-led Weaning Increase the Risk of Choking?

Parents should always be concerned about choking hazards.

Always.

When your baby is starting to explore new foods, only offer safe foods.

Ask your pediatrician for specific suggestions of safe foods that your baby can chomp on all by herself.

Always Use Caution When Beginning the Baby-Led Weaning Journey

Here are some safety tips you should be aware of:

During the Baby-led Weaning, Avoid Serving Any Foods that are Choking Hazards

These foods include nuts, whole grapes, apples with the skin, cherry tomatoes, hot dogs, and cherries.

When Following Baby-led Weaning, Never Leave the baby Alone with Food

I imagine this is self-explanatory!

During the Baby-led Weaning Process, Keep Baby Sitting Upright in Her High chair During Meals and Snacks

This prevents choking.

You probably knew that…ha!

Quick Tips for a Successful Baby-led Weaning Adventure

If you start your baby on solids the baby-led-weaning way, follow these basic principles:

Let your baby eat in her diaper.

Just a onesie or diaper will ensure clothing doesn’t get stained.

Also, grab a super-big bib or smock too!

Cover the dining area.

Place the highchair over a hard floor or at least over an area that has been covered with a cloth that can easily keep little bits of food that can drop to the floor.

This makes after-meal clean-up much easier!

Don’t quit bottle-feeding or breast-feeding!

Most of your baby’s nutrition still comes from breastmilk or formula, so don’t cut back!

Take baby steps. 

Introduce foods slowly.

Try placing one or two pieces of food in front of your baby at mealtimes.

If you overload her highchair, you could easily overwhelm her!

Invite your baby to the dinner table.

Eating is a social activity and you will encourage healthy attitudes about food if you all enjoy mealtime together!

Easy Foods for Baby-Led Weaning

Definitely check with your pediatrician first, but this is a basic list of which foods are perfect for babies beginning the real food journey.

Please note: we encourage all parents to cut food into small, manageable pieces (baby fist-size) and don’t introduce any foods that pose a choking hazard.

Whole Wheat Grains:

Think whole-wheat fusilli pasta or soft, wheat toast with hummus

Healthy fats

Ripe avocados are a great choice!

Protein.

Start with boiled chicken or de-boned, grilled fish.

Fruits and vegetables.

Bananas are soft and mushy and cooked green beans are a fun option too!

Sweet potato fries are perfect for little hands!

Skip out on adding salt, sugar or artificial sweeteners to your baby’s foods.

Definitely avoid introducing potato chips, cookies, and other prepackaged, prepared foods.

Is Your Family Trying Baby-led Weaning?

Chat About it in our All Things Mommy Facebook Group!

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2 thoughts on “Baby-Led Weaning: Why It Works”

  1. Interesting. I’ve not heard that it is recommended to begin weaning at 12 months. I notice no source for that particular info, qnd it conflicts with the WHO recommendation to breastfeed for a minimum of 2 yrs.

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