An Introduction to Weaning – cutting through the jargon!

As you start this next stage of your little one’s journey, you will hear lots of different weaning techniques such as ‘baby-led weaning’, ‘play-led weaning’, ‘parent-led weaning’, ‘puréeing’ and so on and so on! In simple terms, a baby-led approach is where you allow the baby to feed itself. It means that food needs to be cut into small portions so that the baby can hold it, such as cucumber sticks, tortilla pieces, mango, or toasted soldiers.  WARNING – this can be messy!!! The more traditional weaning approach is puréeing, which involves the parent spoon-feeding the baby. This requires more preparation beforehand, such as steaming and mashing softer foods. What are the benefits of each method? In recent years, a lot has been written around each method of weaning, and why you should or shouldn’t follow it.  There is no right or wrong answer. We’d like to help you dispel the myths… Baby-led weaning is the new kid on the block when it comes to weaning onto solids. BLW gives a child the chance to explore foods for themselves, experiencing new textures and helping to develop the pincer grip from the beginning. Many parents who have followed this method claim that their babies are less picky – happily eating anything they are given and can also join in with family mealtimes early on.  This can mean less preparation as babies are given the same foods as everyone else, rather than preparing baby food especially. The downside of BLW though is that it can be messier with a greater amount of food dropped on the floor, and therefore the child may not be full. The parent also needs to make sure any foods given are soft enough to chew and the baby must be supervised at all times given the risk of choking. Puréeing foods is a more traditional way to wean a baby. With puréeing, the parent is more in control of the weaning process. They have to prepare, blend and spoon-feed the child, only offering finger foods later down the line. Puréeing means that you can introduce iron-rich foods such as meat or vegetables that can be hard to chew from an earlier age, with less risk of gagging or choking. The nature of this batch cooking method means that freezing portions can make it more convenient when hunger strikes, and it can also prove to be a little less messy too. The disadvantages of puréeing are down to the time needed to prepare the meals, and that the baby will be eating their own foods rather than sharing whatever everyone else is dining on. It can also be more difficult to get the child to accept more lumpy foods or those in their entire state when they are introduced as they learn about new textures.   Which method should I choose? Ultimately, the method you should choose needs to be your decision and right for you and your baby. Don’t panic that your child will only ever be able to eat mushy banana if you choose puréeing, or that they will be antisocial at mealtimes. Likewise, don’t believe that BLW will guarantee you don’t get a picky eater. These are just theories. Whether you decide to take your child’s lead, spoon-feed them, or find your own combination of the two using a mix method, it needs to work for both parent and child.

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