Some time ago I talked a little about baby led weaning. This is the method I used to introduce Elissa to solids.
In the UK we recommend babies begin weaning onto solids at 6 months. Whenever you wait until 6 months to wean, your baby will be better able to sit up, have good head and neck control, and their hand-eye coordination has developed, so that they can grip food pretty well.
What this means is that most babies can actually manage finger foods from 6 months of age. However, most parents prefer to go onto a stage of puree for a while first.
With baby led weaning you completely skip the puree stage, meaning your baby can easily join in with family meals from the start.
Baby Led Weaning Research
It’s thought that babies weaned in this way may be less likely to refuse foods, or become fussy eaters as they grow older. But, there’s little in the way of conclusive research to prove this.
However, recent research, from the University of Nottingham, has found that baby led weaning may lead to children expressing a clear preference for foods, such as pasta, rice and other carbohydrates, rather than sweeter foods.
Unfortunately the study was small, with only 155 children involved. However, the results are promising.
60 percent of the children in the study were allowed to feed themselves finger foods, such as strips of toast and pieces of fruit. The remaining 40 percent were spoon-fed pureed foods throughout the weaning process.
The researchers noted:
- Despite the fact that infants in the spoon-fed group were offered more carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and proteins, they ended up liking sweets more than the self-fed children.
- Those in the finger food good were more likely to be in their correct weight bracket, and less likely to be obese at the end of weaning.
Study researchers concluded,
Our results suggest that infants weaned through the baby-led approach learn to regulate their food intake in a manner, which leads to a lower BMI and a preference for healthy foods like carbohydrates. This has implications for combating the well-documented rise of obesity in contemporary societies.
Why Is Baby Led Weaning Successful?
On a personal note, I have found baby led weaning to work extremely well.
Weaning was a breeze with Elissa. And, she has an extremely healthy appetite now. There are, of course, some foods she’s not so keen on. But, for the most part, she will eat most foods, and loves trying new things, too.
She does like sweet foods (but, who doesn’t?) That said though, given the choice, she will happily choose fruit over cake, or at the very least, eat a little of both.
Baby led weaning has worked so well for us that I wouldn’t consider weaning in any other way. It is certainly something I’ll be doing again with baby number two.
One reason, I think, finger foods work so well, is because it accustoms children to the textures of what they will be eating later in life, from the very beginning.
They also love to copy what mum, dad and other siblings are doing. And, this style of weaning allows them to do that right away, making the weaning process very easy, as a result.
We all know, however, that many factors can effect a child’s food preferences and body weight. These include genetics, exercise, social and demographic background.
It is clear, therefore, we need extensive studies into this area of weaning, before we can make any conclusive claims.
What are your thoughts on baby led weaning? Would you give it a go?