Diet & Nutrition
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Diet & Nutrition

All That You Need To Know About Baby-Led Weaning

Hey everyone! 🙋‍♀️ During those early stages, babies reach many milestones like the first smile, first crawl, and first steps. They learn many life skills and rapidly grow within no time. Isn’t this the most crucial time for babies to learn and inculcate some good eating habits? Experts believe that it is true to give babies the right knowledge on food and eating habits. It is what they develop in the early stages, that they follow for later stages of life. Breastfeeding is one of the most important ways of providing nutrition and immunity to the baby during the early stages. It is advised to feed the baby for at least 6 months continuously from the time of birth, and then the baby can be put off of breastfeeding by introducing solids — Weaning

What is Weaning?

Weaning is nothing but the process of gradually introducing the baby to adult foods while withdrawing the supply of mother’s milk. The best way to wean is to continue breast milk and give other solid foods in liquid and semi-solid consistency.

There are two basic approaches to weaning — baby-led weaning (BLW) and the traditional method of spoon-fed weaning (SFW) The traditional method involves spoon-feeding your baby smooth and mashed food or purees. This slowly can progress to introducing thicker mashed foods with soft food chunks in between and then to chopped and diced food from about 9 months of age.

Baby-led weaning —

Baby-led weaning has gained popularity in recent years. BLW encourages the introduction of foods through self-feeding, starting around 6 months of age. It involves offering baby-sized pieces of regular foods from the beginning. Do you want to know some pros and cons of baby-led weaning? Read below 👇

Pros of Baby-led weaning —

  • The little one has a chance to choose, pick up, and explore food themselves. It gains independence and develops motor skills.
  • The baby can be offered food that the whole family is eating with just a little further preparation to suit the baby.
  • Babies who choose food to feed themselves have wider tastes.
  • Last but not the least, they can enjoy a meal and get engaged in family dinners very early in life. Isn’t that amazing?

Cons of Baby-led weaning —

  • Parents worry about baby-led weaning is more likely to cause choking than spoon-fed weaning. But reports suggest that it is not choking but gagging that happens when babies learn to swallow solids.
  • It can be messier and it’s okay to have some mess at this age. 😉
  • Another major concern about BLW is whether it provides enough nutrition to the baby. Studies suggest that babies take enough nutrition through baby-led weaning as breastfeeding is also ongoing.

Here are the best foods to offer during Baby-led weaning —

  1. Avocado: This is an easily mashable fruit that’s known for its healthy fat content and is also packed with fiber, potassium, folate, copper, and vitamin E. You can either cut the avocado into a width of an adult finger for 6 to 8 months old and cut it into small cubes or chunks for 9 to 12 months old infants.
  2. Yogurt: It is a taste-bud-friendly food for infants and is rich in calcium, and protein, and is packed with a bunch of healthy gut-friendly bacteria. It is best advised to choose unsweetened yogurt. The dietary guidelines for Americans recommend that children under 2 years must avoid added sugars.
  3. Eggs: These are not only easy to prepare but also loaded with protein, vitamin D, vitamin A, and choline. A hard-boiled egg can be cut into quarters or strips for 6 to 8 months old infants and diced or scrambled egg for 9 to 12 months old infants.
  4. Carrots, Apples, and Sweet potatoes: These are whole foods with high amounts of antioxidants. For 6 to 8 months old it is important to peel, cut, and soft-cooked. For 9 to 12 months old carrots can be chopped and steamed or soft-cooked, raw apples can be peeled and shredded, and sweet potatoes can be soft-cooked, peeled, and cut into chunks before offering it to the baby.
  5. Meat and fish: Packed with tons of essential nutrients for growth and development, including easily absorbable iron, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and B12, and zinc. You can offer a fully cooked, soft, finely, shredded chicken, fish, meat to 6 to 8 months old, and fully cooked, shredded, or ground meat or small pieces of salmon to 9 to 12 months old.

Foods to Avoid —

Sticky foods like marshmallows, gummies, candy, and large amounts of thick nut butter. Round or coin-shaped foods like grapes, cherry tomatoes, hot dogs, hard candy, etc to avoid choking. Raw foods like broccoli, cauliflower stems, carrots, and raw apple. Hard to chew foods like popcorn, hard-crusted bread, and whole nuts. It is best recommended to avoid these foods from the baby’s diet.

Your baby’s age and stage of development will determine how you prepare foods. Generally, opt for soft-cooked foods rather than raw foods. They are prone to allergies and food poisoning so it is important to be aware of introducing foods in infancy. Avoid foods that are raw, hard to chew, and honey as well. Look out for nut allergies before offering any nut butter. Try and engage your baby in eating and exploring food by themselves as it can be very satisfying for the baby and parents as well. 🥰

References:

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/baby-led-weaning/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/baby-led-weaning

https://www.healthylittlefoodies.com/traditional-weaning-or-baby-led/

https://www.nct.org.uk/baby-toddler/feeding/introducing-solids/baby-led-weaning-pros-and-cons#

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-and-worst-baby-led-weaning-foods

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Nutritionist Vasundhara Agrawal

Nutritionist Vasundhara Agrawal

Lifestyle Trainer & Nutrition Coach | I help you #livehealthy