Advent calendar: 9. Baby led weaning

I think I mostly always intended to use some approximation of baby led weaning, but I’m not convinced that my hyper independent child would have ever allowed anything else.

Baby led weaning involves trusting your baby to let you know when she is ready for solid foods, letting her choose what she eats, how and how much, by basically giving her access to exactly what you have and letting her take her pick. It means that instead of being spoon fed tasteless baby rice, she’s shoveling in olives and chicken and biriyani or whatever else you’re having. It tends to start between six months and a year old (dependent on the baby and what they are interested in doing), in contrast to the 4-6 months that puree feeding tends to start. It mixes well with breastfeeding, because that is (usually) baby led too. If you’re breastfeeding on demand, the baby tells you when she’s hungry (or thirsty), and drinks until she’s sated. This control extends to solid food with baby led weaning.

Benefits include not having to get special baby food or prepare separate meals, not having to wean the baby onto baby food or puree and then off it again, a likely wider repertoire of favorite foods, and greater independence and capability at mealtime.

Negatives include the stares of disbelief when you serve up pasta puttanesca or lamb dhansak to your nine month old, and people worrying at you about whether she’s eating “enough”.

It’s about trusting that when she stops eating it’s because she doesn’t want any more, and doesn’t need a banana or a biscuit or whatever to fill her up. It’s about allowing her to spend a full hour just piling olives and raisins in different areas of the plate, or squashing her strawberries to see what happens. Playing with food is a good learning experience, not a mess too be avoided.

Polly eats best when everyone else is eating too. She likes to join in with the adults, say at the table with her metal cutlery and plate of food. She doesn’t react too well to being given different food, or eating at a different time to everyone else. I’m led to believe this is fairly typical in baby led weaning.

Her favorite is the same as mine. Steak and chips.

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