When your baby reaches 6 months, they’ll naturally be ready to start moving on from being solely milk fed to eating solid foods. Baby-led weaning is an approach to weaning that introduces solid foods in a way where your baby is encouraged to feed themselves, rather than eating purees fed to them via a spoon.
Your baby starting their weaning journey is an exciting and fun milestone for both of you to reach, but it can come with some additional challenges and pressures. It’s important to remember that this is new for both of you, so try to make it as fun and positive as possible. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some tips for making weaning a positive experience for your baby.
Accept The Mess
Baby-led weaning will be messy. The sooner you accept this as a fact, then the less pressure you’ll put on yourself when it comes to cleaning and tidying. This also means the more likely you will be to accept the mess and just letting your baby enjoy their time weaning.
Prepare with bibs, highchairs and suction bowls and plates to prevent any excess mess and staining on your baby’s clothes. Instead of using wet wipes, which can be costly and wasteful, use alternatives such as baby washcloths to quickly wipe down hands and faces after mealtimes. Once your baby knows that they can make a mess, it won’t take long for them to learn that they can drop, squash and throw food, so any way that you can minimise heavy mess and staining, the better!
Put Your Baby In Control
When it comes to baby-led weaning, the focus isn’t on ensuring that your baby eats full meals, but that they instead learn about and explore different foods, smells and textures at their own pace. Put your baby in control of the foods that they eat by giving them a selection of foods to choose from. By giving them choice between different foods, they can then start building preferences of foods they like and be able to differentiate between different food groups.
Have Family Mealtimes
When your baby starts weaning, it can be easy to feed them on their own, at their own mealtimes but you should look to include your baby in family mealtimes wherever possible. If your family dishes are suitable for delicate palettes, then offer them the same food as the rest of your family. Family meals help babies to learn about table manners and, as they get older, how to use cutlery. It is also important for social skills, as your baby will love interacting with everyone at mealtimes and this will help them develop better social skills as they get older.
Prepare In Advance
One of the positives of baby led weaning is that you can, usually, just serve your baby foods that you eat on a daily basis. But, if you know that you want to give your baby certain foods at certain times, then preparation is key. Making a few batch meals, portioning them out and sticking them in the freezer is a great way to be prepared for those evenings you have nothing planned or where you haven’t got the energy to cook.
If you’re heading out for the day, be sure to pack a range of snacks that your baby enjoys. It’s worth investing in a cool bag and reusable snack bags to store food in and keep close by so that, when your little one gets hungry and irritable, you have food to hand.