….spoon and mush or little fists and chunks?

So many mums come into my clinic looking for ideas about weaning foods and they usually have the three basic questions.  

  1. When? 
  2. What? 
  3. How?

is an  From well meaning grandparents to the experts in paediatric nutrition and the countless lay opinions.

Recommendations have changed over the years, with the general consensus being that we should wait until babies are 6 months old before introducing solids. This was based on the idea that delaying introduction of solid foods would prevent food allergy.  However, recent research has disproven this idea and has shown that there was a slight increase in allergy risk in babies who started solids after 6 months.  Thus some authorities are now recommending that we start solids at 4-5 months.

 

Baby led weaning is another approach that is becoming increasingly popular that views feeding as a milestone in the life of the child. Thus it does not recommend a proscribed age or time, but instead relies on the baby to determine when they are ready. Gross and fine motor development will dictate when a baby can sit comfortably upright without being aided and also can pick up small items between thumb and forefinger.  These are two milestones that suggest a baby is ready to feed itself.

Baby led weaning also promotes the idea that a baby should feed itself, rather than being fed with a spoon.  Having a baby pick up food and eat it by themselves gives them autonomy and aids in their development.  There are many myths and concerns about this approach and both parents and infant health ‘experts’ often misunderstand the reasoning, rationale and method.

 

Oh, and yes it is rather messy but very fun – as you can see by this happy little guy on the left!

 

Clearly appropriate foods that a young baby can comfortably eat and chew with their hard little gums and emerging teeth are required.  Allowing a baby to explore food that is cut into soft little chunks and batons gives them a chance at making the journey from the hand to the mouth.  Ripe pear, steamed soft vegetables and raw banana or avocado chunks are good examples of foods you can give. By allowing babies to explore on their own terms can bring more interest and less fussiness.

For individual advice on feeding babies and learning about what foods are most appropriate to introduce and when – particularly for preventing allergies please consider a personalised consultation with me in the clinic or on skype.