I read in one of the various emails / bits of paper I get that the most popular weaning approach adopted by parents in the UK these days is a ‘hybrid’ between traditional puree / spoon-fed weaning and the more ‘modern’ baby-led weaning (BLW) which is all finger food based. Before H was even born, I knew I would start weaning using purees and mashed foods. Now she’s been on solid food for a good 3 months, she can eat quite a wide range of things and, even without teeth, is quite adept at polishing off a sandwich, bread stick or fish finger.
When I started weaning H, I wanted to ensure she was regularly taking in a reasonable amount of food for a meal quite quickly. The idea of letting her explore food with her hands at just short of 6 months seemed unintuitive to me. Within about 4 – 6 weeks, she was eating a wide variety of vegetables, lentils, rice, cous cous, bread, porridge and fish. I slowly introduced chunkier food and got her used to chewing, rather than have a big upfront choking risk; We went from puree to finely mashed, to moderately mashed…you get the idea. Some of the food stuffs I wanted to quickly get her eating, lentils for example, need to be really well cooked and therefore lend themselves best to casseroles which are eaten with a spoon. I felt, and still feel, that the traditional approach fits better in the early couple of months of weaning.
From people I know who have used pure BLW, they have still introduced these foods but they have done so by just letting their baby eat the foods by hand. Now this is the aspect of BLW that I personally don’t get. I don’t want my daughter learning to eat yoghurt using her hands; That’s not what she’ll do as an adult so why introduce that behaviour as a baby, even if it is only until she can use a spoon? I don’t want to stifle her desire to explore so I let her touch and feel her food; I just don’t encourage her to eat it by the fist full. Sure some feel that spoon-feeding is like treating your child like a baby bird and, perhaps, to an extent it is. But it’s still showing them what they will relatively soon after learn to do for themselves.
Finger foods are coming in to their own more and more these days as part of her diet. Feeding can get quite tedious when H wants to take her time; Letting her feed herself means I can eat some of my lunch at the same time. This would probably be seen as adopting some BLW techniques. However, I have recently started thinking that what I’m doing is still just ‘traditional’ weaning because every baby will ultimately learn how to eat this sort of food!
So whilst BLW might be for some people, I’m not sure I ‘get it’. I’ve read some literature about it so I understand the thinking, but I think it also teaches behaviours contrary to what children do as they get older. H is almost 9 months old and after 3 months of weaning I think she can managed finger food as well as most BLW babies I’ve met. Of course it’s each to their own but I’m pleased with the path we have taken.