Top tips for weaning your baby
Baby-led weaning is where you let your baby feed him or herself from the start – no spoon feeding and no purees necessary. It can be very messy, but definitely a lot of fun as your baby explores a new world of taste sensations. This method isn't for everyone, but our information and top tips can help you decide if it feels right for you and your little one
When to start weaning
As with traditional weaning, current HSE guidance advises that weaning shouldn't begin until your baby is six months old. If you think your baby might be ready earlier than this, check with a healthcare professional first – our Boots Pharmacists in-store are happy to help with any questions you may have.
A good rule of thumb is that if your baby is unable to sit up unaided and coordinate themselves to look at food, pick it up and put it in their mouth, then they're not yet ready to wean.
The difference between baby-led and traditional weaning
- There's anecdotal evidence from mums to suggest babies weaned on this method are less likely to be fussy eaters as they get older
- It encourages independence and coordination from the start
- Less pressure for parents: your baby will be feeding themselves
- Your baby gets to explore their food – taste, colour, smell and texture
Things to consider
- It's messy. Be prepared for food going everywhere (and not always in their mouths!) in the early stages as your baby explores the tastes and textures of food
- You know exactly how much food your baby is eating
- Mealtimes are shorter. With baby-led weaning you need to stay with your baby while they feed themselves, which is more time-consuming than when you steadily spoon-feed them
Things to consider
- It can involve more time in the kitchen if you make homemade purees for your baby to eat
- Some babies can be a little fussy about new textures if they have been fed solely pureed food for a few months
You can mix and match baby-led weaning with some spoon feeding – many people do. It's all a matter of choice and what works for you and your baby.
Foods to give your baby
Think healthy, think safe. Soft cooked vegetables are a great place to start, but avoid small foods like sweetcorn and garden peas that could present a choking hazard. A chopped, ripe banana often goes down a treat!
Remember, never leave your baby unattended during feeding.
Our top tips for baby-led weaning
- Think big: Make sure that any foodstuff is cut long enough so that some of it is able to poke out from their fist. It can take tiny hands a while to learn how to open a closed fist to grasp the food
- Don't fear the gag reflex: Sometimes babies gag and, while this can be unnerving, it's a normal reaction to your baby stopping themselves from choking on food that is too big for them to swallow
- Don't put food in their mouths for them: Let your baby do it themselves. The reason they might not be eating is simply because they're not hungry
- Your baby may not eat much to begin with. It's more about having fun as they explore and get used to solid food. Keep up with their milk feeds as they demand them and be sure to offer them water with their meals too
- Plastic mats are your friend: Weaning gets messy. Put a plastic mat beneath their highchair – it'll help to catch any stray morsels while protecting your floor