What is traditional versus baby-led weaning?

traditional baby led weaning 

As Starfish and I embarked on the new journey of starting solids, I quickly realised that there seems to be so much us mums need to “know” in order to start. The biggest controversy that I was faced with (almost immediately) was this “debate” between traditional weaning and baby-led weaning. If you’re a new mum, or a prospective mum, you might have NO idea what any of this means (don’t worry, neither did I!) so I asked Amy, the popular food blogger of Healthy Little Foodies (previously Feeding Finn), to shed some light on the topic as she went through both methods in introducing her sons to solids.

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Hi, I’m Amy from Healthy Little Foodies, which is a blog full of healthy food ideas for kids and babies. I try to make sure my recipes are packed with fruit / veggies, are low in salt and contain no refined sugar. All my recipes are easy to make; I know how busy parents are and how kids tend to need all your attention as soon as you start to prep your meals!

Fi has asked me to talk about starting solids and what method I think is best. I have two young boys (age 5 & 2) and have experience of both the traditional, spoon-fed method and baby-led weaning. If you are just about to start your baby on solids and aren’t too sure of how you are going to go about it then I hope that I can help in some way. I will try to explain what I think are the pros and cons of both methods. 

Spoon Fed

Finn, my oldest, was weaned the traditional spoon-fed way. He did have finger foods but most of his food intake was made up from purees. I started with smooth purees and then gradually progressed to mashed and then whole foods. I made most of his meals at the weekend and my freezer was packed full of multi coloured frozen purees that I could take out each evening for the next day. I loved to add different spices and herbs to the purees and made sure he had a range of different foods and food combinations. Unfortunately, this was before I started my blog so haven’t documented all my crazy food combos but I would say to really experiment and try to give as many flavours to your baby as possible.

traditional baby led weaning 1What I liked about spoon-feeding

  • I knew exactly how much Finn had eaten.
  • It wasn’t that messy.
  • It was easier to ensure Finn was gaining the right nutrients (eg iron) as I knew what he was eating.
  • I could use jars / pouches when out and about.

Cons

  • Preparing purees was time consuming
  • Having to spoon feed Finn meant it was a lot harder to enjoy a meal together. 

Baby Led

I chose to wean Rory, my youngest, by doing baby led weaning. This wasn’t because I didn’t like the traditional method it was purely because I didn’t have the time to make the purees like I did for Finn. Weekends were a lot busier and I had two kids to look after all week. When I started weaning Finn, my diet was quite different. It was full of salty, hot, very spicy food that really wasn’t suitable for babies. Once Finn started eating meals then I adapted what we ate to suit him too. I cut the salt, chillies and sugar down and adapted to a new way of eating. All the food was healthy with plenty of veggies and suitable to give a baby. Initially I was just going to puree up the meals that I was serving to the rest of the family but in the end I thought it would be easier just to serve Rory the same as us, without pureeing. 

traditional baby led weaning 2What I liked about Baby Led Weaning …

  • Rory ate what we ate so I only made one meal.
  • He could eat with us at the table and I didn’t need to feed him separately.
  • Rory experienced a range of different textures that he wouldn’t have got from purees.
  • There was no transition from smooth purees to mashed to whole food. 

Cons

  • It is MESSY and there was a lot of food waste created. A lot of food ended up on the floor to start with!
  • I never actually knew what had been eaten (and what had been cleaned up). This in turn made me slightly worried that he wasn’t getting enough nutrients.
  • Eating out was difficult as I worried about the salt content and how healthy the food was on the menu. I often had to pack a separate lunch.
  • I never had any issues with this but gagging did happen and this freaked out my husband.

Baby Led Weaning = More Adventurous Eaters ?

The generally consciences from what I have read in forums and articles is that baby-led weaning produces a more adventurous, less fussy eater. I have not found this to be true, however.

Finn is a fantastic eater. I’m lucky that there isn’t really anything that he won’t eat. Purees certainly have not harmed Finn’s eating ability! Rory is definitely my fussier eater. He isn’t majorly fussy but in comparison to Finn he is. I don’t think the method of weaning has a huge effect on fussy eating so I wouldn’t chose one method over another if this is a concern for you.

Which method did I prefer?

I can honestly say that I didn’t prefer one over the other. Both had their pros and cons, as discussed. If I were to have a third child I would probably go down the route of baby led weaning again, purely for ease and I am confident that our diet is healthy and suitable for a baby to eat.

Not one method is better than the other. I think it is like every aspect of parenting. People with have their (often very strong) opinions and views. However every baby and every parent is different. What is good for one person or one baby isn’t necessarily good for another.

The important thing is that your baby is eating a healthy and varied diet rather than the way that they are eating it.

Amy’s blog Healthy Little Foodies includes more information about her journey with Baby-Led weaning, as well as tonnes of recipes for the whole family. Make sure you visit her website HERE, Facebook HERE and Instagram HERE.

About Fi Morrison

Fi is a first-time mum to her beautiful, 7 month-old baby boy who she affectionately calls Starfish. She started Mumma Morrison as a way to document her life with her son, but also aims to create a supportive and encouraging community for new and prospective mums. She also started up a small business, Starfish Creations, selling women's silicone beach necklaces. Fi and her family live in Sydney.

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