Starting at around 6 months old, your baby learns to feed him/herself. Learn more about baby led weaning (BLW). Don’t expect your baby to ingest large amounts of food for the first few weeks (or even months for some) because babies need time to learn before they master BLW. Just like learning to walk, your baby needs to practice.
So how does it work? Your baby’s reflexes develop one after the other when starting out with BLW. Here’s the progression when introducing solid food to your baby:
- Grab and bring to mouth: 6-month olds put everything in their mouth! When you offer a piece of food to your baby, he/she should be able to grab it and bring it to his/her mouth.
- Bite: soon enough your baby will learn to bite off a piece of food.
- Chew: your baby will chew the food. The ability to chew develops before he/she is able to bring food to the back of his/her mouth for swallowing. This is why you’ll notice food falling out of the baby’s mouth in the early stages. Leave them time.
- Swallow: the final step is swallowing. Since birth your baby has been sucking to feed so it’s normal that they will try to suck the food first. Give them some time and he/she will figure out that food needs to be swallowed.
Here are the 3 reasons to let your baby feed him/herself:
Reason #1: To decrease his/her risk of choking.
If you decide to feed your baby because you’re worried he isn’t eating enough when doing BLW, you are interfering with the development of the reflexes listed above. This means that he/she might be more at risk of choking.
Reason #2: So your baby is in tune with his/her fullness cues.streaming xXx: Return of Xander Cage 2017 film
If you feed your baby, you’re in charge. You’re not allowing your baby to decide how much to eat. He/she is less in tune with his/her fullness cues so you may be feeding your baby too much.
How should you offer mashed foods like applesauce, liver pâté, yogurt and mashed potatoes to babies who do baby led weaning? Make sure you choose a spoon that is a smaller version of an adult-sized spoon. You can pre-load it with the mashed food and give it to your baby. Let them bring it to their mouth. Soon enough they will get the hang of BLW.
My neighbour’s 6-month old Sarah loved feeding herself with the GOOutensil:
Reason #3: It’s a more enjoyable experience for everyone.
The last reason is quite straightforward 🙂 BLW is all about letting your baby feed him/herself.
Imagine being fed mashed foods with a similar texture at every meal. How boring! Compare that to being offered a variety of textures, shapes, exploring and taking bites when you are ready. Much more fun and stimulating. It’s also more enjoyable for YOU because you get to watch them explore AND savour a nice hot meal!
It’s just like walking: give your baby the time to practice. Soon enough he/she will become an expert eater.
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