Baby Led Weaning
Updated Aug 20, 2015
In my whole career of, ahem, several months of parenting so far, there probably isn't anything I've found more confusing and contradictory as feeding advice, only just edging out sleep training advice by a nose. We've gotten over the debate about breastfeeding vs formula and have found our groove in terms of quantity and frequency, only to find ourselves at the doorstep of the next challenge - introducing solids.
Now, depending what you read and when you're reading it, family, friends, doctors, leading edge researchers, etc etc will tell you that you should start introducing solids anywhere between 4-6 months. The problem is, all of it contradicts what the last person you spoke to told you or the last thing you read online, and all of it seems to be based on sound research! So in our family we're going to go with the middle ground of 5 months, with our paediatrician's blessing, and so begins the mad shopping spree of feeding equipment and sippy cups. Then we came across something called Baby Led Weaning. What is important to look for to see if your baby is developmentally ready is the ability to sit more or less unassisted, good head control, loss of tongue-trust reflex, and ideally a good grasp. These are all important for your child's safety when introducing solids.
Now this concept we can accept with or without any sound scientific research or mommy blogger's testimony. By 6 months of age, babies are able to reach for food and feed themselves, so why not let them sit at the table and develop age appropriate oral motor control while introducing meal time as a positive, interactive experience involving the whole family!
While Baby Led Weaning typically makes all the fancy steamer cum blender, squishy feeding spoons, mashers, ice cube trays and other fancy equipment that I've undoubtedly been enticed into buying redundant, there are a few items that make the (very messy) experience a little easier on everyone. These include an easily cleanable high chair (the Ikea Antilop seems to be a concensus mom favourite) with tray, an easily cleanable bib with maximum coverage and/or has a crumb-catcher, a splash mat for the floor, an easily cleanable placemat with crumb-catcher, and eventually some bowls, plates and utensils to self-feed with.
For a great introduction on first foods, check out this site
At the end of the day, follow those motherly (or fatherly) instincts and do what's right for you and your bub. Bon appetite!