Baby Led Weaning what does it consist of?

Allowing the child to direct the introduction of solid foods helps them develop good eating habits and greater autonomy.

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz on October 21, 2021.

Last update: October 21, 2021

Going from exclusive breastfeeding to solid food is quite a step for your baby. Often, this transition is made through purees or porridges that parents or caregivers offer the child with a spoon. However, there are alternative methods that offer interesting advantages. It is the case of Baby Led Weaning, which we will talk about today.

This option allows the child himself to regulate what he eats, how much he eats and how he does it. The role of parents is to supervise or facilitate this task, but the baby is the real protagonist.

Of course, It is a recommendation that tends to generate doubts and fears, especially because you have the idea that the baby is still too young to face this task. So, below we tell you how to implement this method safely.

What is the Baby Led Weaning?

Baby Led Weaning literally means “baby-led weaning.” This term refers to a method in which complementary feeding is directed or self-regulated by the child.

Thus, instead of being a mere passive recipient of the purees that adults offer it, it has food at its disposal. Therefore, you can pick them up, touch them, put them in your mouth and manipulate them at will.

In this way, the baby is offered the same menu as the rest of the family, but with certain adaptations in the shape and size of the food. With this, The aim is for the infant to learn to eat autonomously and at their own pace, which in turn brings other advantages.

One of the goals of Baby Led Weaning is for children to establish a better relationship with food.

From what age can Baby Led Weaning be implemented?

Experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for up to six months. From this moment on, solid foods can begin to be introduced gradually and complemented with breastfeeding, which should be maintained at least up to two years.

Therefore, When your baby turns half a year, you can start implementing the Baby Led Weaning. However, it is important that you make sure that you meet certain requirements before starting:

  • The baby should be able to sit upright with his head upright. This will make swallowing easier.
  • The extrusion reflection must have disappeared (the movement that the baby makes to expel any object or food from its mouth).
  • You have to have some motor skills to grasp food with your hand and put it in your mouth.
  • It is important that the child shows interest or curiosity for exploring the environment and the objects in it, including the foods that are offered to him.

How to start this method?

Once your baby meets these characteristics, you can begin the self-regulated feeding process. Here are some important steps to consider.

When and how to apply the Baby Led Weaning?

Find the right time and place. That is, make sure that at the time of implementing the method, both are rested and relaxed, without haste. The same way, try to do it in a place other than breastfeeding, with the support of your partner or family.

This is convenient, since if the child continues to see you, he may insist on asking for breast, which will make him ignore the food on his plate. Of course, you should consider that there are several ways to apply this approach.

You can use it exclusively from the beginning, but also You can start with puree and then transition when you feel more confident. It is even valid to supplement both types of diet. Choose the option that best suits your family’s needs.

What kind of food to offer the baby?

At this point you have to be careful to avoid the risk of choking. So be sure to offer soft, well-shaped food. For example, raw carrots or apples can be dangerous; it is preferable to roast or boil them.

The same way, cuts food into thin, elongated pieces, shaped like a finger. With this, even if the baby still does not know how to open his fist after taking the food, he will be able to eat what stands out on top. With small, round foods like grapes, be sure to cut them in half for safety.

Security and patience

Once you have the food ready, arrange it on a plate or on the table of your baby’s highchair, and allow him to take it, squeeze it, smell it and taste it.

Be patient and let him play and get dirty; you are testing and discovering at your own pace. Nevertheless, never leave him alone while he eats. If it makes you feel more confident, you can take a baby first aid course.

The idea of Baby Led Weaning is to let the children eat by themselves. However, initially the method can be combined with traditional complementary feeding.

Advantages of Baby Led Weaning

Now that you know what this feeding method consists of, you may be wondering why to implement it; why opt for it if it will take more time at each meal than just pureeting the baby directly. Well, let’s see in detail some of its benefits:

  • Helps the child develop a good relationship with food and, therefore, contributes to the prevention of obesity and other eating disorders. This happens because the baby directs his own process, without pressure or obligations, and the moment of eating becomes something pleasant.
  • It helps the infant learn to eat everything and not be picky or bad dining room. Since you are allowed from the first moment to play with food, explore its forms, tastes, smells and textures, it is easier for you to open up to all kinds of options and accept them more easily.
  • Stimulates motor skills and the child’s coordination.
  • Promote their autonomy and helps you to be and feel independent and capable.
  • The baby himself regulates the amounts he eats based on his hunger and satiety signals. This helps you avoid overeating and teaches you to follow those bodily sensations to feed yourself in the future.
  • A more varied and healthy diet is promoted, since the child tries and takes the family menu, which is more complete and diverse than porridges.

In short, the Baby Led Weaning It is an alternative to introduce complementary feeding that draws attention for its benefits. However, it requires more dedication and patience. It is advisable to consult well with professionals to implement it safely and effectively.

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