Baby-led weaning was a term that I’d vaguely heard of around the time my daughter was born. I didn’t really know what it was but had this vague idea that it was alternative and not for me. Someone had given me a copy of Annabel Karmel’s New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner. It advised readers to feed their babies mashed or pureed fruit and vegetables in the early days, so that was what I was going to do. When the Health Visitor told me it would be better to give my daughter whole banana than mashed banana, I took this advice with a pinch of salt because it contradicted a book that I’d been led to believe was the Weaning Bible.
A few weeks into weaning, my daughter was frequently refusing to be spoon fed and was gagging on bananas. A paediatrician told me that weaning was difficult, but I wasn’t prepared to put up with this, there had to be another way. I remembered the Health Visitor’s advice and tried my little one with a ripe peach – allowing her to feed herself. The results were remarkable – she scoffed the lot! Impressed by this change, and bearing in mind the Health Visitor’s other statement that babies are more likely to choke when being spoon fed than if they are allowed to feed themselves, I began reading up on baby-led weaning.
Baby-led weaning is about following your baby’s cues to determine when she’s ready to start eating. Key elements are: The baby sits with the rest of the family at meal times and is given small pieces of food to handle and potentially eat. Baby feeds herself from the start. Milk feeds are still given until the baby is eating more and seems ready to reduce them.
I read Baby-led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett, which I found really helpful. However, a lot of the best advice is towards the end of the book and I don’t think everyone reads that far. When my daughter was about seven months old, my husband and I swapped roles. He took over with weaning and I was somewhat surprised to find that he was spoon feeding the baby alongside giving her finger foods. Rapley and Murkett’s book provided me with reassurance on this point; they say that it’s OK to combine feeding methods in this way providing your baby is happy to eat from a spoon. She was happy, so I was happy for this to carry on.
I now have a two year old who is happy to eat almost anything. She has no issues with new foods, lumps or different textures and I’m delighted that I didn’t have to while away hours making purees. I wouldn’t go so far as to say there’s a Weaning Bible because that would be far too prescriptive but if I had to recommend one book on weaning, it would be Baby-led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett.
Simone grew up in the Worthing area and currently lives in Angmering with her husband and young daughter. She blogs about what they’ve been doing at Angmering Mummy.