Based on a paper by Gill Rapley, ‘Baby-led Weaning’ simply means skipping purees and letting your baby feed themselves from the get go. After six months of age, they are considered ready for this alternative journey. I enjoyed reading this book and had every intention of doing this with my son, but when the time came I must admit that I became so excited to spoon feed him that we just went that route instead. But there are things I implement with my son that I might not have tried had I not read this book.
What I did not like about this book is how it bashes spoon feeding, when there is nothing wrong with spoon feeding if that is what you choose to do. This would also be a challenge for your baby to exclusively self-feed if they are on a schedule, or if you don’t plan to breastfeed past a year. It takes time for your baby to learn how to actually feed themselves because the first month or so, they are just experimenting with holding and mouthing the food.
I enjoyed how it encourages trying whole foods with baby. It reminds you that babies ARE smart and WANT to do what they see their parents doing. It’s empowering for babies to do things all by themselves, eating included. It has great instruction on how to help your child learn to feed themselves. Such as giving them sticks of steamed foods to chew on and even lamb chops to gnaw on! The book also goes into the fear of baby choking, as they WILL choke a bit when learning, and how we can wait a little and let them figure out how to work the food around their mouth and eventually learn how not to choke.
We spoon-fed our Son starting at 5 1/2 months because he was showing signs that he was ready and he was very active, crawling all over the place. Slowly, I started giving him foods to try on his own, like avocado slices and steamed carrot sticks. Our Son is 8 months old and can make his way through an entire un-cut banana. At first he would choke a little, but soon learned not to shove the entire thing in his mouth at once. Now we give him avocado halves, whole pieces of toast or rice cake or even a large piece of meat to chew on. Please enjoy this video of my Son figuring out a banana.
I recommend reading this book, or checking out the baby-led weaning site, as it offers up many ideas that we don’t hear too often in popular culture. If you are into spoon feeding, then just ignore the slight guilt trip it gives you and just listen to the advice on how to help empower your baby through self-feeding. How did or would YOU introduce solids to your baby? What do you think of the baby-led weaning concept?