Baby Led Weaning & Spoon Feeding
Our parenting choices can be extremely polarizing- one example being vaccinations. I remember running errands after my son’s 4-month check-up and shots. I ran into an acquaintance and in our small talk mentioned that my happy little boy was such a champ getting his shots. Her response was something along the lines of, “Vaccines are POISON!” P-O-I-S-0-N. Really? I am a loving mother who would never dream of hurting my son. I vehemently disagree with her position as diseases like Polio and Small Pox have been eradicated because of vaccinations. Likewise, I also respect this mother’s freedom to make choices for her family (even when I feel it puts her family, my family and society-at-large at increased risk of preventable illness). I would never say anything mean to her because of her choices and would refrain from my opinion unless she asked for my thoughts.
However; this post is not about whether to vaccinate or not. There is plenty of discourse of that on the Internet. My point is the disrespect and extremity of this individual’s response. I was not asking her views on vaccination, I was simply sharing light-heartedly about my day. Parenting is hard work and I think we make it harder when we thrust extreme unsolicited advice on others.
As I was researching introducing solids to babies, I was taken aback by the extreme views on the subject. Terms like “Baby Led Weaning” (BLW) popped up which I had never heard of before. Some websites demonized different styles of feeding.
In this post, I am simply sharing my experience with both Baby Led Weaning and Spoon Feeding in a fair and balanced way.
BABY LED WEANING
Baby Led weaning has nothing to do with weaning from nursing, but rather takes cues from the baby as she begins to feed herself.
WHAT I LIKE
I like that the baby gets to explore their food with all five of their senses, including touch. I do think that by allowing children at a small age to “play” with their food, it can help them be more open to try and like a greater variety of foods.
The first challenge I find is that Dylan doesn’t eat as much if left to his own devices. At six months he didn’t quite have the dexterity to pick up pieces of food and eat them, but he clearly had the appetite. He also didn’t have any teeth until 7.5 months, so giving him a chunk of food to chew makes me nervous. His pincer skills are still primitive so in order for him to be able to pick up a piece of food, it can’t be too small or soft. That said, I am afraid that poses a choking hazard.
Safety comes first. I am all for Dylan exploring and feeding himself, but I am slowly rolling out appropriate finger foods as I've read 30% of exclusively BLW babies have had one choking episode [Source]. Common sense needs to prevail. Cutting the food in pea-size pieces seems to be the golden rule so that even if they swallow the food whole, they cannot choke. Also only putting a couple pieces of food at a time on the high chair tray makes sense as babies tend to "bite" off more than they can chew so to speak!
I have been able to integrate Baby Led Weaning with PC Organics™ ”Rice Rusks” as they are easy to grasp and dissolve in their mouths. They aren’t high in nutrients, so this is a short-term thing just to get Dylan used to feeding himself. Once his tooth fully comes in, I will cut some pieces of soft fruit tiny enough with a crinkle cutter as the little grooves will help his little fingers grasp the goods.
I have recently discovered a baby shower gift that I was given. It's called a mesh feeder. I'm not exactly sure it fits in the BLW category, but this is a good way for babies to get exposure to some harder to eat foods such as meat and firmer fruit. I don't use it a lot as I want Dylan to get to explore the texture of food, but every few days he gets some food via his mesh feeder in addition to his other BLW foods and purées.
WHAT I LIKE
I know he gets adequate food intake and his developing motor skills and lack of teeth do not pose a problem.
It’s more passive on Dylan’s part.
I do spoon fed him the majority of his food, but will also give him food that he can feed himself too. I’m trying to give him the best of both worlds. My goal is to overtime lessen spoon-feeding and increase baby led weaning.
I hope you have found this discussion fair and balanced.... this is just my experience.
Do you have a preferred baby feeding style and what tips do you have?
* As stated in previous posts, I am not sponsored by any companies mentioned.