or Baby-led Weaning?
We often categorize the methods of introduction into two different approaches:
The Spoon-feeding or Parent-led weaning method and the Baby-led weaning method.
As a Certified Nutrition Consultant, I’ve reviewed plenty of research on these two methods, read studies to unearth any evidence of benefits for one or the other method; and most importantly, was able to directly test on my son who acted as my little guinea pig Disclaimer: No harm was done to any cute baby during the study, only a wide variety of whole foods were presented to the said baby, in various (safe) shapes and textures, most of the time to his liking, but sometimes not 😁.
Different strokes for different folks
What I found out is that each baby’s journey and relationship to food is different, as unique as they are. It is very important to keep that in mind when choosing the method that works for you, the one method that feels right for your baby, but also for your family. But more importantly, what I really found out is that neither of these methods is better than the other and I tend to promote a combination of both.
Because life is often not a long, quiet river and most likely you will need to adapt on a day to day basis. Also because food and mealtime is an everyday thing, that can seem repetitive and at the end, what will truly matter is that you teach your baby the values around food that are important to you, your culture, your beliefs, and most importantly, that you trust your parental instincts.
Don’t feel guilt or pressure around your choice
When it comes to choosing a method, do not let guilt or other people’s judgment influence your choice. Just like Jennifer Anderson says in this great article on Insider.com: “Baby-led weaning is the new breast is best”, and I couldn’t agree more. When a fellow parent comes to you and tell you that they’ve decided to do BLW with their baby because “that’s the only method that prevents picky eating”; “feeding purees to babies with a spoon is not allowing them to choose how much they want to eat” or “studies have shown that…” it can make you feel totally overwhelmed, guilty because you chose not to do BLW, or like Anderson puts it, it makes you feel like “a second-grade parent because you are not doing what’s best for your child”.
Both approaches have good outcomes
If you ever find yourself in this situation, remember that there is not one right way of introducing solid foods, and no study has found that one method is better than the other. Studies actually show that the outcome of both methods is equivalent and that what could affect a child’s behavior or relationship to food is dependent on other factors such as the family food environment or even stress around mealtime. Which is exactly why Bébé Foodie will not impose a method, but rather will give you the tools to create a healthy, fun relationship to food, matching your family’s lifestyle and choices.
So when choosing a method, remember that your parental instinct is the ultimate guide to what will work.
Find a balance that works for you
But because this is also why I am here, I’ve put together a table to help you choose between one method or another depending on a given situation. Of course these situations are examples and you can choose to do things differently.
And taking the risk to repeat myself here a bit, I am a strong believer that you are not required to choose a method but rather find out what works best at a certain moment of the day, week, or at any point of your baby’s journey with solid foods.
Dowload Guide 3
“Parent-led weaning or Baby-led weaning”
Some handy tips to get babies started on solid food
Whichever method you decide to go with, either every day or on some days, always try to ensure that you:
- Pay attention to your baby’s signs of fullness. If your baby is done eating, recognize the signs (turns the head, closes the mouth, pushes plate away etc…) and respect them. Don’t force your baby to eat because it’ll only cause stress at the table.
- Encourage discovery: While you don’t want to force your baby to eat when they refuse the food you serve, don’t offer a different option. It can take up to 15 times for a baby to accept the food that you serve. And at the very beginning of the introduction, it’s all about discovery.
- When it’s time, let bébé join in: When you feel ready, try serving your baby what was prepared for the rest of the family, either mashed or as finger foods. This will not only save you time but it’ll also make the experience more enjoyable for you and baby. But of course if sometimes you serve leftovers, premade baby food or simply cook some pasta, or are going out, or really for any reason you see fit, and that’s totally fine.