Baby-led weaning vs spoon feeding: which one is right for your family?
Should you start by feeding baby finger foods?
Our moms and grandmas have all probably fed us purées and did what we call “traditional weaning” or “spoon feeding”.
They might encourage you to do the same with your child who is now ready to eat solid foods.
And you might have heard, read or seen mama friends doing a novel approach called “baby-led weaning” where they ditch the purées and offer baby finger foods straight from the get go.
They might have discouraged you to offer purées as they swear by this method!
Purée? Finger foods? All good options for your baby who is learning to eat!
What’s the hype with baby-led weaning?
Here is a comparative chart of the 2 methods, so you can get an idea of what they are.
One method is not better than the other; it’s really about what you feel comfortable doing
Spoon feeding and Baby-led weaning first foods
Regardless of the method your family chooses, it is important to remember some keys nutrition points:
Iron-rich foods first, as 6 months old babies need plenty of iron
Make sure to introduce the common allergens from the beginning, and in a safe way
Know the difference between choking and gagging, and what to do in both cases
Know when to introduce milk and which one to choose
It is also important to trust your judgment and respect your values. Ultimately, you as parents are the best judge of what is right for your family and your baby. Sure, your friends and family members might be well intentioned in sharing their opinions, but you know best what feels right for your family!
Read about feeding methods, ask questions to your dietitian, and trust yourself when feeding your baby.
Is baby-led weaning for your family?
Like with anything, there are pros and cons to both methods. The table show you the main ones to consider.
After reading this, one method might appeal to you and your family reality more than the other! Your choice will depend on your values, your experience as a parent, your child’s temperament, your parenting style…
Depending on your parenting style and values, one method (or an hybrid!) will appeal to you.
“True” baby-led weaning?
Although there seems to be a baby-led weaning team and (or against?) a purée/traditional weaning team, you don’t have to pick a team and label yourself. As registered dietitians, we don’t think you should stress about following a “true” baby-led weaning approach. You are not less worthy if you adopt aspects of both method. When key nutrition points are observed, the “how” becomes less important.
What we prefer about the baby-led weaning is this emphasis put on letting your baby lead this adventure and the feeding process. We are totally for that attitude, but we think it can be adopted even with a spoon and purées method. So follow your baby’s temperament and lead. That is really what responsive feeding is all about – much more than if you are choosing to use a spoon or not!
Following your baby’s lead is what should matter the most – with or without a spoon!
Either way, follow the golden rule!
Although responsive feeding would ideally be adopted from birth and when baby only drinks milk, the introduction of solid foods is a perfect occasion to adopt the golden rule and make it one of your family meal time rule.
Letting your child lead is the key element to any feeding method.
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