Here’s some weaning wisdom straight from our experts
Do you want your child to begin a life-long love of food by exploring flavours, textures and colours themselves? Do you want your whole family to eat the same food together, at the same time?
Baby-Led Weaning is an exciting way to wean your little one and achieve these goals. Following this approach, you can watch your baby explore different textures and tastes in their own time, in their own way.
A few things to bear in mind when you start out
- Expect lots of gagging and try not to confuse this with choking: a choking baby will make no sound and rapidly turn blue. Gagging describes when your baby turns very red and coughs/splutters very loudly (almost as if they might be sick). This is your baby’s way of learning how to move food around in their mouth and prepare to swallow, so although rather unpleasant to listen to, it’s actually a positive sound!
- There may be times when you feel like you are constantly feeding your baby, whether it’s meals, snacks or milk feeds. I remember my NCT group moaning a lot particularly around the 9 month mark because we felt like we were constantly serving a meal or breastfeeding/preparing bottles which make getting out of the house quite a challenge! However, it’s hopefully reassuring to know that by the time your baby reaches 12 months, he’s likely to only want two milk feeds a day, morning and night, so your only daytime feeding duties will involve solid food!
- You might find it handy to have a food notebook so that you can jot down any new foods or meals your baby has particularly enjoyed so that you can make them again. This is also really useful to refer back to if your child is unwell, teething or becoming a little bit fussy. It’s handy to have a list of go-to recipes that might entice your little one to eat and make life that little bit easier for you too. If your baby is teething then try my teething soup, mighty mash or bubble and squeak bake, these have proved very successful with many teething babies.
Natalie is an advocate of the Tidy Tot range
‘I always highly recommend the Tidy Tot range to parents. There’s no denying baby-led weaning is messy but the Tidy Tot Bib & Tray Kit helps prevent food falling on the floor and keeps baby covered and clean. For older ones, the Tidy Tot Long Length Coverall Bibs not only looks adorable but are practical in keeping clothes clean. They fasten right around the back, so sides and back stay clean too.”
Read more from Natalie in her blog post talking about the fussy 9 month stage
Annabel Karmel has pioneered the way families all over the world feed their babies and children. She has become the UK’s No.1 children’s cookery author, best-selling international author, and the mother of all feeding experts with 45 cookbooks…and counting.
While lots of parents start out with smooth purees for spoon feeding, baby-led weaning has never been more popular. The idea behind this new feeding trend is that you allow your baby to decide what foods they want to eat, when and how much. It’s all about allowing them to go at their own pace and explore a variety of foods, tastes and textures for themselves.
Dr. Gill Rapley
Dr. Gill Rapley, is co-author of Baby-Led Weaning, Helping your baby to love good food, and pioneered baby-led weaning as a successful approach to solid feeding after studying it as part of her MSc.
Baby led weaning babies follow their own patterns when starting solid food. For example, your baby may:
- Set off enthusiastically, munching on everything in sight, gradually swallowing more and more of it and never looking back. (Probably the least common pattern.)
- Progress slowly but steadily through looking, experimenting, licking and tasting, and then eating, gradually increasing the amount she consumes.
- Eat almost nothing for weeks or months (with or without being keen to touch and taste) and then suddenly show enthusiasm for food.
- Set off enthusiastically and then seem to lose interest in food altogether.
None of these patterns suggests a problem. Most BLW babies don’t eat significant amounts of solid food until they reach 8 or 9 months, and some not until after their first birthday. Those who start off enthusiastically and then lose interest simply enjoy the novelty of food more than those who start more slowly.
“The Tidy Tot is a really innovative idea for containing the inevitable mess that happens when babies feed themselves. I defy any baby wearing the Tidy Tot to sweep food onto the floor or get it down inside their highchair!”