There comes a time in all parents' life that they have to start the weaning process for their child. Weaning is the process that begins the first time your baby takes food from a source other than your breast. When you start weaning your child, you are gradually replacing breastfeeding with other foods and ways of nurturing.
'Baby-led weaning' is eating with your baby at the same time, at the same table, and sharing the same food. Your baby simply feeds herself, exploring and enjoying healthy family meals, and bypasses purees and mashed-up foods.
This may be an especially difficult moment for breastfeeding mothers, as the baby-mother bond grows when breastfeeding, but this gradual process is a natural way to get your baby ready for the solid foods that it needs to grow and develop.
When to Start Baby-Led Weaning
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively for at least the first six months of life. At this age, your little one has dropped the tongue-thrust reflex (which causes them to push foreign substances out of their mouths), and their intestines have developed the necessary digestive enzymes to absorb solid food.
While some parents begin to wean earlier to prepare to go back to work, others may wait until their children are toddlers before fully weaning. Every child is different, as is every parent, and each have their own idea of when is the best possible time to start weaning. There is no right or wrong time; it is all up to you! As you prepare to wean, it's important to check in with your pediatrician to make sure your baby gets the green light to wean.
Benefits of Baby-Led Weaning
Weaning can be a bittersweet time for parents as their baby "grows up," but it can be exciting as well. You can start to cherish all of the amazing benefits that baby-led weaning introduces to your little one.
Growth and Development: Weaning means your baby is ready to try new things, and get their nutrition from new places. They will learn skills that they'll use for the rest of their life, like developing manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination skills. It will also introduce them to new flavors, textures, and experiences they've never had before!
Personality Development: Weaning is the perfect time to start to see a little bit of your child's personality! Personality traits will emerge as you discover what tastes your child does and doesn't enjoy. Some babies are adventurous eaters right off the bat, while others need a bit of prodding to try new things. It is a fun way to watch your baby grow and try new things!
Gaining Confidence: Baby-led weaning gives your infant the chance to do things for themselves. It gives them confidence in their own abilities and judgment. They learn that they are capable of making new and interesting things happen, which in turn helps to build confidence and self-esteem.
Family Time: Baby-led weaning starts to introduce your infant to family mealtimes, as they will start eating the same food and joining in this important family bonding time. This is fun for your child, and allows an opportunity to copy mealtime behavior. This is essential when learning how to use utensils, and adopting the table manners expected in the family. Babies can begin to learn about how different foods are eaten, how to share, and how to wait their turn.
Safety Tips for Baby-Led Weaning
Baby-led Weaning is a natural and beneficial way of introducing your little one to new foods, but there are a few safety tips to take into consideration to make sure your little one has an easy, safe transition:
Avoid serving any foods that are choking hazards, including nuts, whole grapes, apples with skin, and cherries.
Never leave a baby alone with food! Keep them sitting upright in their high chair while eating, and make sure you always have an eye on them.
Watch for allergic reactions from foods! If you see any sign of distress, skin rash, irritability, or other symptoms after consuming a new food, be sure to seek medical attention right away.
Explain baby-led weaning to everyone who takes care of your child so that they follow the same safety precautions you do.
Baby-Led Weaning DVD from Platypus Media!
We are excited to announce our Baby-Lead Weaning DVD is on sale! A $49.99 value, currently listed at $19.95! This is a deal you don't want to miss!
This DVD is an introduction to the very different baby-led approach to weaning. It avoids spoon feeding and purees and instead allows babies to feed themselves from the very beginning!
I Can Feed Myself is a practical and authoritative guide to introducing solid food, enabling your child to grow up a happy and confident eater.