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Baby

      Baby led weaning

      Do not leave your little one unattended when eating and drinking

      There a few different approaches you can take to weaning. Firstly, there’s the traditional approach where you start spoon-feeding your baby smooth, puréed foods, gradually progressing on to thicker, lumpier textures. The other approach is baby led weaning where you let your baby feed themselves from day one. You can also do a bit of both. The question is, what exactly is baby led weaning? How do you get started? And is it safe?  

      Do not leave your little one unattended when eating and drinking 

      What is baby led weaning?

      Baby-led weaning means offering your little one a range of soft finger foods and letting them feed themselves. This allows your baby to explore the look, smell, texture and taste of different foods in their own time, and take weaning at their own pace.

      Do not leave your little one unattended when eating and drinking 

      Baby led weaning vs traditional weaning – The pros and cons

      On one hand, baby led weaning is a great way to encourage your little one to eat independently and cope with different food textures from day one.

      However, some research suggests that baby led weaning can increase the risk of your baby being underweight or iron deficient1. This is because iron rich foods like red meat or fortified breakfast cereals are harder to introduce until they’re older or able to chew. Unless you’re happy to embrace the mess and let your baby to feed themselves fistfuls of sloppy porridge that is!

      Why not get the best of both worlds by offering your baby a mix of purées and soft finger foods?

      How to get started

      First things first, you need to be sure your baby is ready for weaning. Once you’re sure they’re ready, pick a time when they’re not too tired or full and start with single veggiessoft-cooked carrot sticks, broccoli florets or cauliflower florets make perfect first finger foods and are great starter foods for baby led weaning.

      Just make sure the veggie pieces are:

      • Cooked until they’re soft
      • The right size for little hands to hold (the size of an average chip is about right)
      • Cool enough for your baby to hold.

      What happens next is up to your baby! They may play with it, squish it, or even throw it on the floor. In time, some will eventually end up in their mouth. Whatever happens, try to relax and let your little one take things at their own pace. Once they’ve got the hang of things there’ll be no stopping them. The key to happy weaning is to keep it relaxed and fun.

      Always trust your little one to know when they’re full – they may squirm, lose interest in eating, start to spit food out, or even hold food in their mouth. The important thing is to let them do it in their own time and not force your baby to eat more than they want to.

      Baby led weaning foods

      Once your baby is comfortable with simple veggies like soft-cooked carrot sticks or broccoli florets you can gradually start to introduce other exciting flavours and textures to their repertoire.

      • Batons of ripe banana, avocado, pear, mango and apple.
      • Sticks of cucumber or melon (great for soothing sore gums).
      • Wedges of roasted sweet potato or butternut squash, with the skin removed.
      • Boiled egg or ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters (only use eggs that carry the red British Lion stamp).
      • Cooked pasta shapes
      • Fingers of bread, toast or pitta
      • Chunks of mild pasteurised cheeses

      Ripe berries, or cooked peas (great for practicing those fine motor skills)

      Do not leave your little one unattended when eating and drinking 

      Keep up the milk feeds

      Remember, during the early stages of weaning, their usual milk feeds will continue to fulfil their nutritional needs, so as long as you stick to your usual milk routine you’ve got nothing to worry about.

      Do not leave your little one unattended when eating and drinking 

      Is baby led weaning safe?

      Just like weaning with purées, the key thing is to make sure your baby is showing all the signs of being ready for weaning. That said, it’s best not to start your baby on soft finger foods until they’re at least 6 months old.

      Do not leave your little one unattended when eating and drinking 

      Won't my baby choke?

      It's only natural to worry about your baby choking or gagging on a lump of squishy carrot. But we promise, there’s no need to stress. As long as you’ve prepared the food safely, our little one’s natural gag reflex will help protect them from choking. And regardless of how you choose to wean your baby – with purées or soft finger foods – it’s normal for them to cough and splutter a little. It’s all part of the learning process.  Just make sure they’re sitting upright and never leave them alone when they’re eating or drinking. 

      1. Nutrients – Open Access Journal. How Feasible Is Baby-Led Weaning as an Approach to Infant Feeding? A Review of the Evidence. [Online]. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509508/ [Accessed January 2020]

      What is weaning?

      Do not leave your little one unattended when eating and drinking

      How to prepare, store and reheat baby food

      Do not leave your little one unattended when eating and drinking

      Weaning at around 6 months: Start with vegetables

      Do not leave your little one unattended when eating and drinking

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