Oh, the big world of solid food! When it’s time for your baby to have their first tastes of food, it can be both daunting and exciting in equal measure. On the one hand there’s the exciting adventure of introducing your baby to different foods and flavours… but on the other hand there are so many questions. What do you feed them? How do you start? Should you go with baby-led weaning vs purees? What is baby-led weaning anyway?
Baby-led weaning is essentially letting your baby feed themselves finger foods. At Mamá + Bebé we are huge fans of baby-led weaning! It’s what we used when our bebés started eating solids - they loved it and so did we.
However, we know that it’s all personal choice. What works for one family doesn’t always work for another.
If you’re approaching the solids stage here are five of our favourite benefits of baby-led weaning for you to consider.
Pureeing baby food can become quite tedious. There’s the chopping, cooking, blending and then the feeding. One of our favourite benefits of baby-led weaning is that you can cut out two of those steps.
Rather than having to prepare a puree and then also a meal for the rest of the family, your bebé can eat a baby-friendly version of the family meal. If the family meal is meat with steamed veggies, simply cut the steamed veggies into a suitable baby size and that’s what they eat.
What you feed your bebé will depend on their age but some ideas to consider are slices of avocado or poached apple, steamed carrot sticks, cucumber sticks or pieces of banana.
The other benefit of the baby-led weaning approach is that your bebé does the feeding. Forget trying to distract them while you jam a spoon into their mouth - they do the feeding themselves.
There is nothing a bebé loves more than doing something for themselves. Whether it’s opening the lid of their sippy cup, flipping through the pages of a book or pulling off their socks (why do they insist on pulling off their socks?!) you can instantly see their pride and excitement.
One of the benefits of baby-led weaning you may not have considered is how it helps your bebé to build their confidence and self-esteem. Every time they pick up a piece of food, their confidence grows. Then they manage to get that food into their mouth - another reason to celebrate and their confidence rises.
These may seem like small things, but for your bebé they are huge. They are learning and developing new skills, and the confidence that comes with them.
Encourages natural exploration of food
While there will probably be times when you do puree food for your bebé, if you exclusively feed them purees they can miss out on some of the amazing things about food. Things like the different textures or how certain foods are squishier than others.
By offering finger foods, you can encourage your bebé to explore their food. They’ll feel the different textures in their hands and also in their mouth when they eat it. They’ll learn that you need to chew some foods more and others less. They’ll also observe the colours of the foods they eat and learn to spot different fruits and vegetables in a way they couldn’t do with purees.
This approach also helps bebés to taste individual foods, rather than a puree where multiple foods may be combined together. It’s much easier for them to work out their individual food preferences versus you having to throw out purees they turn their nose up at.
Develops fine motor skills
Gripping, grabbing, grasping, moving their hand to their mouth - these are all fine motor skills that baby-led weaning can help to develop.
You may not realise it now, but these are all the skills they will need to learn how to hold a pencil and draw or use scissors to cut or even do up their own buttons.
Holding a spoon is also great for developing fine motor skills. But just because you go down the baby-led weaning path doesn’t mean you can’t also encourage your bebé to hold a spoon. Give them a spoon in one hand and let them use the other to pick up the food. It will probably end in them switching hands and experimenting with the spoon, but that’s half the fun!
As much as we want our bebés to stay in our arms forever, as they get older, independence is a hugely important skill for them to have.
That’s one of the benefits of baby-led weaning - it promotes and encourages independence. You give your bebé the food and let them take charge. They are not only building confidence and self-esteem but also testing their boundaries and feeling in control over their mealtimes. It’s amazing what those skills can do in the long run for your bebé.
Start baby-led weaning with Mamá + Bebé
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