Blog Post

Getting started with weaning – the different approaches explained

Like every aspect of raising a child, there are different ways to approach weaning.  With so much advice available, it can be difficult to work out what’s going to be best for you and your little one.

I’ve used a mix of approaches with my 3 children over the years and feel there are advantages and disadvantages to each approach, so wanted to share my thoughts.  Hopefully they will help you choose which method is going to be best for you and your baby.

3 Main Ways to Wean:

Nowadays, these are the 3 most prevalent ways to wean:

  • Traditional weaning – spoon feeding purees to start and gradually progressing to mashed up food with chunks over the next couple of months and adding finger foods later.
  • Baby Led weaning – this involves letting your baby take the lead.  Giving your baby pieces of food that the rest of the family are eating.  The food is cut into smallish chunks, and your baby feeds himself, rather than you feeding them.
  • Combination weaning – as the title suggests, this involves a mix of the above.  Some meals involve purees, other meals involve finger foods, allowing your baby to feed herself.

Here are some of the pros and cons of the different approaches – based on my experiences, chatting to friends and reading lots about weaning over the years.

Traditional Weaning

The Pros:

  • It’s much easier to monitor how much your baby has actually eaten (rather than dropped on the floor)
  • It can be easier to ensure your baby’s diet is nutritionally balanced
    • Iron rich foods in particular, can be difficult for babies to chew if not pureed.
  • It’s generally less messy – particularly in the early days when you’re in control of the spoon!
    • As your baby starts to grab the spoon and tries to feed himself, things do get messier…
  • For parents who worry about their baby gagging or choking, feeding purees initially can help alleviate this worry.

The Cons:

  • Making up purees is time consuming – and it can be frustrating when your little one refuses to eat your lovingly prepared purees.
  • Having to spoon feed makes it harder to enjoy a meal together.
  • Some babies get very used to the smooth textures of purees and struggle when lumps and different textures are introduced.

Baby Led Weaning (BLW)

ikea floral cushion
The Pros:

  • BLW babies tend to be more adventurous and less fussy in their eating habits.
    • Allowing your child to explore the foods they are eating in their own time is felt to help with this.
  • No stressing about introducing food with lumps.
    • Your baby is exposed to a variety of textures from the start.
  • Babies are more likely to participate in family mealtimes from an early age.
    • You can all eat at the same time, rather than you having to spoon feed your baby
  • Allowing them to feed themselves is felt to be an important part of their development, helping with hand-eye coordination.
  • Can be easier for mums with other children – your baby can just eat a small portion of the meal prepared for older sibling(s) – assuming it’s low salt and contains no ingredients unsuitable for young babies.

The Cons:

  • It’s MESSY!  There’s no getting away from this – there is usually more clearing up and tidying up after mealtimes.
  • it’s harder to monitor how much your child is eating (vs. finishing a pot of puree) and whether they are getting the nutrients they need.
    • Certainly in the early days, a lot ends up on the floor or down the sides of the high chair!
  • Some people worry about their baby choking on bits of food
  • BLW shouldn’t be started before 6 months – which can be an issue with really hungry babies.

Combination Weaning

ikea cushion and matThe Pros:

  • Your baby will learn to both chew and swallow from the start.
    • There’s less chance of your baby rejecting textured, lumpy foods if they’ve been eating finger foods which require some chewing from the start.
  • They are given the freedom to feed themselves sometimes, yet you can still keep a good track of what they are eating
  • Methods can be switched to suit.  If you’re at home, your little one can have some of your food, if you’re out and about, you can grab a pre-made puree to make life easier.

The Cons:

  • Some BLW purists will say that you are undoing all the good if you switch to purees and spoon feeding sometimes, and that you may confuse your baby.
  • Choking remains a concern for some.
  • You’ll still have the additional work of making up purees.

As with most aspects of raising a child, there are generally no right or wrong answers.  The ‘right’ thing is the approach which works best for you, your baby and your family.  Discovering what is best may well involve some trial and error!

Whichever method you choose, here are some things to bear in mind:

  • No nuts, whole grapes, popcorn, raw jelly – all of these are serious choking hazards
  • No salty or very sugary foods – no need to add any salt to your baby’s meals and sugary foods can lead to tooth decay.
  • No honey until 1 year old
  • Eggs can be offered after 6 months – but should be fully cooked (both yolk and white should be solid, not runny)
  • It’s also recommended not to give children low fat foods – babies need good fats for their development.

Whichever weaning method you choose, the key is to stay relaxed, allow your baby to go at his / her own pace, offer a range of nutritious foods and allow them to explore lots of different tastes and textures.

Good luck and Happy Weaning!

Helen x

 

Leave a Reply

Related Posts

Messy Mealtimes – Eating Outdoors in the Summer

Summer is a great time to let little ones get a little bit messier

fathers day craft
5 Fun Father’s Day Craft Ideas

Father’s Day is coming up soon – on June 16th this year.  Here are

10 Tips For Happy Weaning

There is sooo much information available now for weaning little ones – it can

easter tree
Easter Craft Ideas for Little Ones

Hot on the heels of Mother’s Day, comes Easter – another great opportunity for

Mother's Day heart print
Mother’s Day Craft Ideas

Mother’s Day is fast approaching (next weekend Dads!)… One thing that always goes down

pancakes
Ideas for Pancake Day fun

I love Pancake Day – I have very happy memories of it as a

cooking with toddlers baking box
Cooking with Toddlers – 10 Fun and EASY Ideas

Cooking with toddlers can be fun.  It can also be stressful, chaotic and very

Valentine’s Day Crafts

Looking for some Valentine’s Day craft and baking inspiration for toddlers? Here’s our round up

choosing high chair
High Chairs – our tips for choosing the right one for you

There are hundreds of different high chairs available for weaning nowadays – with so

navy mat
Craft & Baking Ideas for Toddlers – January

January can be a difficult month with toddlers – the cold, short days make

ikea cushion and mat
Weaning little ones over Christmas

Whether you’re at home or away visiting friends and family, here are a few

Autumn Messy Play Ideas

It’s a beautiful, crisp, sunny autumnal day here at Messy Me HQ, which has

small business happy dance
My highs and lows of running a business

There are many mums out there successfully running their own businesses around their families.

picnic mat
9 ideas for summer fun with toddlers

We’ve had some gorgeous sunny days here at  Messy Me HQ, which has inspired

fathers day
Father’s Day Craft Inspiration with Messy Me

Father’s Day is coming up soon – on Sunday June 17th… Surprise Dad this Father’s

outdoor play mat
10 uses for our Messy Mats

A recent testimonial about our Messy Mats said “You don’t need to use the mat

navy mat baking
Our 9 Tips and Tricks for Happy Cooking with Kids

Cooking with Kids – Part II Last week, we talked about all the benefits of

7 reasons why it’s great to cook with your children

Cooking with children… Just the words can often conjure up a variety of different images

tunic bib and oilcloth by the metre
Home Made Easter Cards Ideas

With Easter fast approaching, we thought we’d share some ideas for home made Easter

Mother's Day craft
Mother’s Day Craft Ideas with Messy Me

Mother’s Day is fast approaching – often sending Dads and Husbands into a panic

Valentine’s Day Biscuits

Here’s a lovely recipe for delicious biscuits – with a Valentine’s Day theme –

tunic bib
Making pizzas with little ones

Pizza Fun with Messy MeIt’s National Pizza Day on Friday – which sounds like

ikea cushion insert
Why we love our new Mini Cushions for the Ikea Antilop

Our new Mini Cushion Inserts – designed for the Ikea Antilop are the most

ikea antilop cushion pastel roses
Common Weaning Myths

There is so much conflicting advice about weaning nowadays – so many different sources

navy oilcloth by the metre christmas
5 ways Messy Me can help this Christmas

Whilst Christmas with little ones can be a magical time – watching their little

Our Top Ten Items for Easy Weaning

Starting the weaning journey can be a daunting process – with so many different

Messy Trays & Sensory Boxes – Why We Love Them & Lots of Ideas

Here at Messy Me, we know how important it is to let little ones

Messy Play Ideas for Rainy Days

We don’t need convincing that mess is lots of fun and so important for

sweetcorn
Seasonal Superfoods for Summer

Eating foods with are seasonally available is a great way to get the nutrients

Messy Summer Outdoor Fun

We love mess!  In fact, we firmly believe that more mess equals more fun

grey oilcloth
Five reasons why our Oilcloth makes a great tablecloth

One of the things I love about summer is the chances to eat outside

Rainy Day Ideas for Little Ones

Inspired by the rainy weather we’ve had here over half term, we’ve come up

Five things we love about our new High Chair Inserts

We’re really excited about our new High Chair Inserts which have arrived and are

Removing Stains from Oilcloth

What’s the best way to get rid of stains on oilcloth is a question

prima baby awards logo
High Chair Cushions & Clutch Bags shortlisted by Prima Baby Awards

prima baby awards logo We are thrilled that both our High Chair Cushions and Clutch

Sugar and Sugary Snacks for Little Ones

With sugar and sugary drinks featuring in the news so much this week, here

baby led weaning
Baby Led Weaning – Staying Relaxed in the Early Months

I have recently listened to a really great podcast interview with Tracey Murkett, co-author

mealtime mess
Managing the Mess at Mealtimes

Allowing children to be messy at mealtimes can send a shiver through even the

autumn leaves
Boosting your child’s immunity this Autumn

At this time of year – as the nights start drawing in, the days