Weaning is a slightly confusing word. It is used to describe the process of introducing a baby mammal to its adult diet, whilst slowly and gradually withdrawing the supply of breast milk. Baby led weaning can mean either allowing your baby to eat solid foods in their own time, or allowing them to relinquish breast milk in their own time.
In this case I'm talking about how and when to introduce solids. And baby led weaning is a super simple method of doing this.
Gill Rapley is a health visitor in the UK, which is the equivalent of our child health nurses in Australia. She coined the term baby-led weaning and popularised it in her book, written with Tracey Murkett, called Baby-Led Weaning.
“As a health visitor for over 20 years she encountered many families who were experiencing problems feeding their babies; many babies resisted being spoonfed or would only accept a very limited number of foods. Some parents had resorted to force-feeding in an effort to get their children to eat. Choking and gagging on lumpy meals was common. Mealtimes were extremely stressful for both the parents and their babies.
“Gill suspected that the babies were resisting what was being done to them rather that the food itself. The simple suggestion of waiting a bit longer (if the baby was under six months) or letting the baby have a go himself (if he was older) seemed to make a huge difference, both to babies behaviour and the parents stress levels. “
“So she did a study, and at the same time in 2003 research shows that solids should be introduced at 6 months.”
Baby-led weaning simply means allowing your baby to feed themselves with finger foods and any normal, home-cooked, family food from the age that show signs of readiness. I suspect this method has much in common with how mothers around the world would have fed their babies for many generations.
Human babies - like infant mammals everywhere - develop the skills they need to feed themselves with solid foods at just the right age.
- Gill Rapley
Offering your baby some of your home-cooked food is the best way to start. There are so many advantages to this method of weaning.
- If the food you eat is not healthy enough for your baby then this is a good opportunity for you to revisit your own diet too.
- You don’t have to prepare separate food, or mash, puree, freeze or reheat anything.
- If you are breastfeeding your baby is already used to the flavour of the food you eat regularly so is more likely to enjoy your family food.
- You get to eat together as a family or can do other stuff whilst your baby snacks because your hands are free.
Get your FREE guide to Ayurveda and Baby Led weaning!
- Find out your babies unique 'dosha' - their Ayurvedic body type.
- Includes three great recipes to get you started.
- Learn about salt, choking, avoiding allergies and more!