Baby led weaning is a process through which babies are gradually introduced to solid food through specific baby led weaning foods. A healthy approach through baby-led weaning foods helps in quickly weaning baby from breastfeeding.
This is a process in which a baby is allowed to pick up and eat food by themselves, as a complementary process to breastfeeding. The weaning process not only provides the baby with ways to develop their own food habits but also helps the parents manage the meal times more efficiently.
Here is a baby weaning guide to help you understand how and when to start the weaning process.
Table Of Contents
Why Should You Consider Baby Weaning?
While effective and timely weaning from breastfeeding is one of the major reasons baby led weaning has gained popularity, there are other benefits of using weaning foods as described below.
‣ While weaning baby from breastfeeding, introducing solid food using baby weaning foods creates a level of self-regulation in babies, encouraging them to choose their own food, and develop their own eating habits.
‣ Efficiency at meal times increases for parents as the baby is encouraged to eat alongside other family members. As a result, the parent may be able to eat at the same time while the baby enjoys some of the weaning foods.
‣ It is an easier and safer option to introduce baby weaning foods in the form of solid, finger foods that the baby can hold, instead of preparing time-consuming purees.
When And How To Begin?
It can be challenging to know when the right time to start the process of weaning from breastfeeding is. Every baby is different, and while earlier it was commonly believed that weaning at 4 months is essential, it is no longer the scenario. In fact, modern studies have observed that weaning at 5 months could also be harmful as the baby’s digestive system takes time to mature. The collective feedback on this is that weaning at 6 months may be considered as optimum. As a parent, these are the signs to look for to know when your baby is at the right weaning age.
‣ The baby should be able to sit up without assistance
‣ The baby should have lost the reflex where the tongue automatically throws out solid food
‣ The baby is able to pick up small items by holding them between her thumb and forefinger
‣ The baby wants to chew, this is when you usually pick up those chewing toys
‣ The baby shows signs of grabbing food from others’ plates or hovering around food during mealtimes
How To Ensure A Smooth Transition?
When you have established that it is time for weaning baby from breastfeeding, these are the steps you can take to facilitate a smooth transition.
‣ To begin baby led weaning, a proper place for the baby to sit should be defined. You may look at high-raised chairs for babies available at most contemporary furniture stores.
‣ Introduce baby led weaning foods slowly, starting with once per day (remember that breastfeeding should continue as usual).
‣ Your baby will show through gestures and expressions when the right time to increase the frequency of baby weaning foods is. Do not rush.
‣ Introduce the baby weaning process at regular mealtimes. Baby led weaning is not to fill the stomach, but to encourage developing food habits and inculcate the right behaviours.
What Are The Foods To Consider?
Now comes the most important question – what are the right kinds of foods for a baby led weaning starter. Here is a list to understand the most commonly used baby weaning foods. If it works better for you, you might create a baby weaning chart using any of these items, and stick it to the door of your refrigerator. In this way, you could also build discipline and routine into your baby’s character.
‣ Fresh and soft fruits such as bananas, avocados, peaches, melon, and plum
‣ Not mashed but soft-cooked vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, beans, beets, and pumpkin
‣ Meat that is well-cooked, and obtained from hygienic sources
‣ Soft-cooked pasta or brown rice, recommended at a later weaning age, usually after 6 months
Always remember to test the softness of the food before placing it before the baby. The simplest test is to try to squash some of the baby led weaning foods with your own thumb and forefingers. If it gives away easily, the food is ready. Also, remember to place little amounts of food on the plate, and look for signs from the baby before refilling. Place a small glass of water next to the plate of weaning foods.
Which Food Items Should You Avoid?
While this list should be obvious to some people who are starting with the baby led weaning process, it is always better to keep a list of foods to avoid handy, in case you are confused.
‣ Foods that have a higher risk of choking are not considered safe as baby weaning foods. Some of the examples are nuts, tomatoes, grapes, and cherries.
‣ Foods that include common allergens such as gluten, soy, and eggs should be avoided. It may be that your baby is able to digest these foods, but it is best to avoid them as a baby led weaning starter.
‣ Processed foods such as popcorn, gum, breakfast cereals, and chips should be avoided at all costs. It is best to avoid these for the entire family during the weaning process so that your baby is not tempted to snatch one of these from another plate.
‣ Stimulants that fall into the category of chocolates and foods that contain artificial flavouring or sugar should be completely eliminated from the baby weaning chart.
[Read more: Ragi For Babies - When To Introduce?]
The process of baby weaning may seem daunting at first, but with the introduction of regularity and routine, mealtimes can become more fun as you see your baby engage and learn. Give your baby the time and space she needs to adapt to the new technique of baby led weaning. It is called baby led because over time, as the baby grows, she herself will show you how she wants to approach the plate you laid in front of her. Weaning baby from breastfeeding through baby led weaning foods is a scientifically proven approach for the healthy growth of a baby, alongside developing strong familial bonds, and designing mealtimes with reduced stress for parents.