Like with many things in parenting, when it comes to starting solids there are some VERY strong opinions about how to do it best. All human societies prepare some form of weaning food - however, how they choose to do this differs from culture to culture (or mother’s group to mother’s group). The two camps that get the most air time in our culture are BABY-LED or SPOON-FED weaning. Let’s break these down.
BABY-LED WEANING (BLW) BLW in its purest form means no spoon feeding. Your child feeds themselves. Because BLW requires a baby's active participation, it’s not recommended to start until 6 months old. Specifically, babies must have a pincer-grasp (thumb to index finger) in order to adequately pick up food & self-feed. BLW infants are given steamed vegetables, soft fruits & sliced food (e.g. potato, avocado, peaches) so they can easily hold, chew & swallow the food themselves. Some studies show that BLW leads to a less iron-rich & higher salt/fat content diet. However, with education & support parents can be aware of this & modify their baby's meals accordingly.
SPOON-FED Traditional weaning involves starting with puree foods offered on a spoon for your baby to eat. As your child gets older & more proficient, the texture & consistency of the food increases from a fine puree to a rough, chunky mash. This later transitions to the introduction of finger foods from around 9-months-old & cut up/modified versions of the family meal as your baby approaches 12-months-old. This method can be also ‘baby led’ if you’re responsive & pay attention to your baby's cues. For example, only offering a spoonful of food when they indicate readiness & stopping as soon as they show signs of disinterest. TAKEAWAY MESSAGE There is no evidence that either spoon feeding, or baby led weaning is better or worse for your baby. At the end of the day, choose whichever option works best for you & your family. It's also perfectly fine to do a combination of both. Try one method one day & the other the next OR both methods for the same meal. Whatever suits you & your baby best. References: Cichero 2016; Borowitz 2021; Morison et al 2016
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