If your baby is coming up to the 6 month mark, you will probably be thinking about starting weaning some time soon. If so, I suggest you put your best organic baby clothes away at mealtimes as things are going to get a bit messy for you and your little one.
Baby-led weaning is very much ‘en vogue’ at the moment and it’s easy to see why. Instead of you deciding when baby should start eating solid foods, he or she decides. Breastmilk or formula will carry on being baby’s main source of nutrition until he or she is around 12 months old. But from 6 months they can start trying other foods.
In the Summer months, I used to strip my daughters down to just a nappy and sit them in a highchair. Otherwise I’d just put on one of their baby vests and/or an organic cotton bib. I’d pop a bit of cooked pasta, fruit or veg on the tray and let them get on with it. I recommend always having a damp flannel or some organic muslin squares to hand as Boy can babies make a mess!
The one thing with baby-led weaning is that Mum or Dad don’t ‘force’ baby to eat when he or she doesn’t want to. Babies who are feeding themselves do not overeat as there’s no-one playing aeroplanes with the spoon, forcing the last bits of food down their mouths. We’ve all seen and probably done that, haven’t we? Pretending the spoon is a plane or train and making the silly sound effects whilst encouraging baby to open their mouth and eat? Sounds familiar?
The benefits of baby-led weaning are huge. Not only does it help with hand-eye coordination and healthy eating habits but it also gives baby the chance to explore different tastes and textures at his own pace. Your baby must be able to sit upright before you start. Baby should also be able to chew and ideally be showing an interest in family mealtimes.
Some parents do a mixture of spoon feeding along with the baby-led weaning and that’s fine.
As with most things, this is your baby and you do whatever works for you. Baby-led weaning is slightly less demanding though and if you’re relaxed about the mess and understand that your baby won’t starve doing his own thing, then go for it!
There’s no right or wrong when it comes to weaning. Some babies can cope with lumpy food earlier than others. Be flexible though and don’t make baby do anything he or she isn’t ready for.
Start with things like batons of banana or other fruits. Organic fruit and veg is perfect but it doesn’t matter if you’re out of Fairtrade bananas! These bamboo bowls are great but it’s fine to just lay some nibbles on the highchair tray too.
However you go about it, good luck and remember that Weetabix when it dries outperforms Superglue any day!!
Kathryn Crawford, parenting writer, Granny-to-be and founder of MrandMrs50Plus.com