Thursday, 9 January 2020

Tips for Encouraging Baby Led Weaning

There are many advantages to baby led weaning; for one, you can enjoy some time to yourself instead of trying to spoon-feed your baby while making swooshing aeroplane noises to try and entice them to eat. Another advantage is that your baby will gradually become more independent as they learn to feed themselves and will become more curious about the different types of food.

So, where do you begin? Read on for some useful tips on how to encourage baby led weaning.

Let Your Baby Play with Their Food

The first time you introduce solid foods to your baby – ideally, when they are over 6 months old – they probably won’t immediately know how to react. In order to let them get used to this change, put a few pieces of food on the highchair tray and let your baby feel them. While parents typically encourage their children not to play with your food, this is how your baby will learn to eventually self-feed. If you’re worried about all the mess that is inevitable with baby led weaning, then simply use a neckerchief bib to try and contain the chaos. By playing with their food, your baby is learning how to pick it up and develop their motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Start Off with Soft Foods

Although the term ‘solid foods’ might indicate hard-to-chew foods, it really means a solid substance as opposed to liquids (i.e., mushy baby food or puree). You don’t want to give your baby any food that could be a choking hazard, as they are still learning how to chew. Start them off with soft finger foods, like ripe banana chunks, soft-cooked carrots and peas, or cheese cubes.

Avoid Certain Foods

Make sure to avoid the following foods when baby-led weaning:
·         Whole grapes – choking hazard
·         Whole or chopped nuts – choking hazard
·         Honey – contains a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which can cause infant botulism, a fatal bacterial infection
·         Cow’s milk – has a higher lactose content and can lead to kidney disorders
·         Sugar – sugary foods can cause tooth decay
·         Chocolate – contains caffeine and high sugar content
·         Caffeine – can increase blood pressure, heart rate and potentially cause seizures in young children
·         Soft, mould-ripened cheeses – these cheeses have a higher risk of carrying a bacterium called listeria, in contrast to pasteurised full-fat cheese

Try Not to Panic

It’s easy – and completely natural – to get overwhelmed and worry about your baby’s health when they begin to self-feed, especially in the early stages. However, try not to undermine your baby’s abilities; they can be fast learners and quickly adapt to finger foods. If you are constantly monitoring them and appear worried, they will pick up on your emotions. Obviously, you still need to keep an eye on your little one but have some faith. It’s also important to note is that gagging is very common for babies weaning, so if you see your baby gagging, try not to panic. Gagging is a natural reflex and is a normal response to trying new foods. If your baby is gagging frequently during mealtimes, however, it is worth consulting your paediatrician, as your baby could have issues coordinating their mouth movements.

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