Baby Led Weaning Vs. Traditional WeaningWhat is right for your baby?

  • Parenting
  • Baby Led Weaning Vs. Traditional Weaning

Baby Led Weaning Vs Traditional Weaning

Feeding your baby is supposed to be an enjoyable experience for everyone, especially your baby. There is no right or wrong way to feed your baby but there are essentially two main camps – baby led weaning and traditional weaning. Baby led weaning is the process of letting baby self-feed from the start.  Traditional weaning involves pureeing and mashing foods to make it a little easier for babies to swallow. Here is a basic guideline to what sets them apart:

Four Months Old Vs. Six Months Old

All health professionals suggest that baby should be getting most of their nutrients from milk, either through breast milk or formula for the first twelve months. With traditional weaning, health professionals suggest starting to feed baby solids around the age of four to six months but baby led weaning shouldn’t begin before six months. By six months babies are more capable of reaching and picking up small portions of foods.

Many professionals say that a child should be able to sit in a high chair, hold his or her own head up unassisted and have good neck strength.

My Two Cents Worth:

I think babies are ready when babies are ready.  If they are interested in food and start reaching out to grab spoonfuls of your food whilst you are eating, perhaps start giving them a taste of the sauce to ease them into it and see where they go.

Chewing Vs. Swallowing

Traditional weaning and baby led weaning both teach a child how to eat; however, the order that children learn to eat is reversed. With baby led weaning, your child is learning how to chew the food and it may take some time for them to actually swallow. In the first few weeks, they may just be chewing, sucking, tasting and then spitting out the half eaten food. However, with traditional weaning, the main thing is ensuring that the child is learning to swallow; chewing comes at a later stage, usually after the mashed stage.

Great First Foods for Baby to Try Include:

  • Cooked ripe fruit
  • cooked egg yolks
  • cooked pasta shells
  • softly cooked vegetables

Preparation Vs. Cleaning

Traditional weaning involves a lot of different devices to create the right first tastes and textures including blenders, steamers, ice cube trays and food processors. It involves a lot of preparing of chopping veggies, steaming fruits and mixing ingredients to create different meals. Baby led weaning, on the other hand, is a lot simpler in the preparation sense, but the cleaning process can get a little messy. After all, unlike traditional weaning, you are not feeding your baby; they are feeding themselves and thus you can expect the food to end up all over the floor, the high chair, the table and the baby. But it’s all part of the exploration.

Exploration Vs. Digestion

Baby led weaning focuses on the learning process of eating. Babies are encouraged to explore the different tastes and textures with their hands and mouths. Traditional weaning focuses on ensuring that baby is actually swallowing and digesting the foods.

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The Control Factor

Many parents that do follow a baby led weaning routine find that they are a lot more relaxed about the whole feeding process. Sure, baby may not be getting a lot of food in their mouths at the start but they will still be getting plenty of milk from breastfeeds or formula. However, there is a lot less control involved with baby led weaning. While you get to choose the foods that baby gets to try, you are letting your baby explore on their own. You are in less control of how much they actually digest, how much mess they make and how they react to the foods.

Portrait of cute little baby boy drinking milk, lying down on the bed and eating, baby food formula, healthy nutrition for kids

The Risk Factor

Two of the biggest fears when it comes to baby led weaning is whether the baby will have an allergic reaction or whether baby will choke or gag on the foods. With traditional weaning, these concerns are much less of an issue as you are introducing one food at a time and are pureeing and mashing the foods to lessen the risk of choking.

Many parents choose to find a happy medium between the two, such as offering purees for breakfast but baby led weaning for lunch and dinner. Whatever you decide to do, keep it fun and work with what’s best for your family and your routine.


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