10 Practical Tips To Get Started With Baby Led Feeding
Thinking of baby led feeding? Aileen Cox Blundell of babyledfeeding.com gives her advice.
The day has finally come! Your beautiful, pride and joy has reached the six-month mark and is ready for solid food. Yipeee! I say this because it is literally the best fun ever watching a 6-month-old tasting spaghetti sauce and meatballs for the first time or figuring out how to tear open a muffin filled with spinach and goats cheese, then watching him devour it!
Yes, I’m talking about Baby Led Feeding (aka – baby led weaning).
So what is Baby Led Feeding?
In a nutshell, you skip all the concoctions of fruits and vegetables whizzed into smooth purees and head straight for the finger foods. This may seem a little bizarre if you have never heard of the baby led approach before, but at 6 months, your little one is well able to chew soft foods with their super, strong gums. You simply offer your baby soft and easy to manage foods that the rest of the family are already eating. So much fun, and so little work in comparison.
Sound good? Well then here are my top 10 tips to get you started on your Baby Led Feeding journey…
1. You are both learning
Ease yourself into the whole baby led way of thinking by starting with really soft foods cut into spears. Avocado and banana and soft pears are great. Spears of softly roasted butternut squash or sweet potato work well too. Remember that both you and your baby are learning, but after a few weeks, they will very quickly show you how amazingly skilled they are of feeding themselves. When you’re feeling braver you can offer muffins and pancakes and pies and then the rest.
2. Mammy and Daddy know best
Trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, then just don’t do it. Keep in your mind that foods should be soft enough to squish between your thumb and index finger, if they can’t, then don’t give it to your baby!
3. Think in ‘Thick Cut Chip Sizes’
I’m not advising giving your baby chipper chips for dinner but just cutting vegetables and fruits into the size of chips to make them the ideal size for little baby hands to manage. At the beginning they won’t have developed their pincer grasp, so won’t be capable of picking up small things like blueberries, which can leave them feeling frustrated.
4. Invest in a long sleeve wipeable bib
It is all well and good having your babysitting in their nappy and nothing else during the summer months, but now that we are approaching winter and the coldness is starting to settle back in, a good bib is a must. It protects their clothing, and if it has a catch-all pocket, then you won’t have to search for the dropped food.
5. Forget the bowl – just for the time being
Unless you can find a really good suction bowl your baby is going to look at this colourful, playful looking thing (the bowl), and fling it more than likely across the room, food and all. Most high chairs today, have a tray so just use that at the start. It can be removed afterwards and washed in the sink. Winner!
6. A wipeable tablecloth will save your sanity
Cut a wipeable tablecloth into quarters then place one piece under your babies high chair. Keep the cloth clean, so when food falls onto it, you can pick it up and give it back to them.
7. Too much choice
Overloading a plate with food would put most people off eating, and the same goes for your baby. I find little bites of food works better than giving everything at the same time. Then if your baby still seems hungry you can offer more. One of the best things about Baby Led Feeding is that your baby will just stop eating when they are full.
8. Chill out
It is important not to rush your baby when they are eating or help them by putting food in their mouths. Instinctively, babies eat the way we would all probably like to eat, slowly and carefully so trust them. We can all be impatient and sometimes in a hurry but as a rule, just let them eat at their own pace.
9. Don’t wait for the ‘Hangry’ stage
When your baby has reached the ‘I’m REALLY hungry and I want my food now’ phase they get easily frustrated. So, space out the milk feeds and the solid food feeds so that meal time is enjoyable – for both of you.
10. Enjoy it
This is sometimes easier said than done, but please trust me on this one. Take a really deep breath, let your baby work away because it flies by, and before you know it you will have a pro-Baby Led Feeder on your hands and the mess of spaghetti in their hair will be just a distant memory.
Have you tried baby led feeding? Let us know how you got on in the comments!
Written by Aileen Cox Blundell of babyledfeeding.com, for eumom.