Baby Led Weaning vs Traditional Weaning
Why pick just one method?
So what are both methods?
Traditional weaning – this involves making purees for mealtimes. Starting with a smooth consistency and gradually building up in textures and tastes until baby is eating whole solid food.
Baby Led Weaning (BLW) – giving baby whole pieces of food from the onset of weaning.
At our yummy mummy group we would discuss both methods. Most were advocates of the traditional methods while a couple were strong advocates of BLW. Discussion would ensue on the positives of both methods. The main fear of the traditional weaning camp was fear of choking. The main positive of the BLW camp was the fact that they could enjoy a meal at the same time as the baby.
So which is the right way? As a new mum you are eager to get it right. You can spend ages and I mean ages researching both methods, weighing up the pros and cons. But does it really matter?
First baby – What I did.
With my first we starting weaning at 5 1/2 months and chose the traditional method, for about 5 weeks! After listening to the discussions I had a lightbulb moment. (These lightbulb moments are rare with baby brain!) Why not do both? Genius!
The smooth pureed food didn’t last long, we soon went to mashing up our own food. We just had to make some adjustments to taste such as cutting out the salt and avoiding food that was too spicy. If we wanted something that we didn’t think was appropriate for our daughter we would use a jar of HiPP Organic. Some mealtimes we would give her large pieces of solid food before or after the mushy food. To begin with she would just play with large pieces of food. Gradually small bits then bigger chunks would get eaten. Snacks would be solid pieces of food.
So in my reasoning. She was getting the best of both worlds. Nutrition and volume in her belly but also the chance to feel, choose and experiment with her own food. My daughter is now 4. She’s not a fussy eater. She will try new foods. She is healthy.
Second baby – What I did.
On to baby number 2, a little boy. We started weaning at 5 months. Although recommended is 6 months, this big boy was starting to grab food out of our hands and eat it! We started with some pureed food, he lapped it up, no pushing it out with his tongue. We soon went on to mushy food about 6 months and at this stage offered solid pieces of food again at snack time and after a meal. Again, to begin with he played with it. Gradually he began to demolish any food given to him. Now at 8 months he will eat pretty much anything. Its great, we’ll give him the mushy food first and then some chunks of food whilst we eat our meal.
I believe also that giving babies large chunks and gradually smaller chunks of food for them to feed themselves aids hand – eye coordination and fine motor skills. Bonus.
So my advice would be, don’t get hung up about which method is best. Do a mix. Every baby is different. Follow their cues, never leave them alone during meal times and ensure baby is getting a good nutritional mix of different foods.
I’ve later realised that this is actually what is recommended by The World Health Organisation and The Department for Health.