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Weaning

What Is Baby Led Weaning?

Baby led weaning means letting your baby feed themselves. It lets your baby explore their food for themselves and helps them get used to different textures. It is a great wat to try lots of different foods.

It can be a messy but fun time, as your baby learns to pick up, drop and throw food! 

You may prefer baby-led weaning to spoon feeding, or you may want to combine a bit of both. There's no right or wrong way, you can do whatever you feel comfortable with.

The most important thing is that your baby eats a wide variety of food and gets all the nutrients they need.

Dive Deeper

Why Choose Baby Led Weaning?

Over the least 10 years there has been a growing interest and use of Baby Led Weaning. This is because there are believed to be benefits to letting your baby feed themselves.

Some research about Baby Led Weaning has found it might

  • Help development of key skills such as hand/eye co-ordination, chewing and swallowing.
  • Help risk of obesity by allowing your baby control over how much food they eat. This is because they start to learn to stop when they are full.
  • Reduce fussiness with foods and 'picky eating' by offering a wide variety of family food.
  • Encourages jaw development through chewing, which in turn supports speech development.
  • Reduces risk of food allergy or sensitivity through early introduction of those foods that may cause issues if introduced later.
  • Help encourage independence and confidence.

Most importantly Baby Led Weaning allows your baby to copy you! They can feed themselves holding their own food, putting down things they don't like or want - or throwing them away. It allows them to get messy and learn to enjoy food in a social and safe environment.

How To Baby Led Wean Safely

After 6 months, if you choose to start baby led weaning, try and keep your same feeding routine with breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Babies get most of their nutrition from milk throughout the first year.

Follow the guidance below to make sure you are weaning your baby safely; 

Never leave your baby alone with food

Choking is always a risk with any type of weaning. Make sure you are always with your baby when they are feeding.

Keep the food soft

The food’s texture should be soft enough for you to squash in between your fingers. 

Prepare food according to your child's age

Start by giving your baby sticks of food that they can grasp in their hand. As they get older they will be able to pick up smaller chunks of food.

Practice good hygiene

Make sure you clean the high chair or bowls that the food is being served on. This will stop any germs multiplying which could make your baby sick. 

Choking risk

The risk of babies choking when baby led weaning is no different to when being spoon fed. The good news is that all babies are born with a gag reflex. This lets them push food forward in their mouths. You may notice your baby gagging more when baby led weaning. Don't worry, this is because they are in control of their own feed.

It is important to make sure that any small, round foods, such as grapes and cherry tomatoes, are halved lengthways. Remember to check that any meat or fish you are giving does not contain any bones.

 

What Food Can I Give My Baby?

Like us babies enjoy a variety or taste and texture so don't be afraid to let baby try what you are having (without salt or sugar) and soon you will all be eating the same meals together. 

This is - 

  • Cheaper than cooking lots of different meals just for your baby.
  • Easier than cooking separate meals for your baby.
  • Reduces the chance of them becoming fussy and expecting special meals that are different to yours as they grow older. 
  • Can make you all healthier!

Remember try not to give your baby processed or convenience foods such as microwave meals or takeaways. If you are having something like this, you could eat later and prepare something just for your little one. Takeaways and processed meals are high in salt, sugars and fats.

Read more about recipe ideas

Who can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.

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