If you have been following my blog for a while, you know my family has experienced baby led weaning benefits firsthand. Today my son is a confident and independent eater because of baby led weaning.
In this post I wanted to focus on some of the baby led weaning benefits no one really talks about much on parenting forums. These benefits are in tune with the responsive eating style and set your child for weaning success.
To begin, let’s first talk about readiness for solids;
READINESS SIGNS TO START BABY LED WEANING
It is important to note that the WHO recommends that all babies have breastmilk/formula exclusively for the first six months of life.
Besides this there are a couple of baby led weaning readiness signs to look for in order to start baby led weaning without any hiccups;
- the baby is able to sit up on his own (at least for 10 secs). This is to ensure strong truck control to start on finger foods.
- has lost tongue thrust.
- is showing interest in food and making a grab for it
- is mouthing toys
By six months of age developmentally most babies are already showing these signs which means they are ready for solids.
I know when you are first learning about baby led weaning, there is a lot of information to cover. I hope this article helps those on the fence about this weaning route. Ultimately you need to decide based on your specific family needs and lifestyle.
BABY LED WEANING BENEFITS
- Freedom from elaborate food preparations especially for baby
No more purees, soups or other special foods for baby. Surprisingly many second time moms go the baby led weaning route because they no longer have the time and patience to make elaborate baby food preparations. At the same time, they don’t want to open up baby food jars. If you are in a similar dilemma and don’t have time and support systems to help you through this phase, baby led weaning can be the answer.
Baby led weaning offers baby an opportunity to taste foods in the whole form. It also increases the chances of baby eating home cooked meals over processed baby food and gives mommies the freedom they need in the kitchen. It is much easier to serve the baby family foods. If you have doubts on how to prepare baby led weaning appropriate foods and include the baby in family meals, I have a post explaining how to get started and what to offer a baby led weaning child.
- Exposure to varied textures and different foods
Baby led weaning exposes babies from the beginning to a wide variety of textures and flavor profiles. The baby touches and holds different foods which provide much needed sensory feedback and aid in better acceptance of new foods.
Most baby led weaning proponents will tell you their children are adventurous eaters. There is no fussy eating at the table because children have developed a wider taste and texture based palate.
- Responsive style of feeding
Though research on baby led weaning is limited, it is commonly found that most baby led weaning mothers follow a responsive style of feeding. This style is one that most scientists and doctors recommend for a successful transition of children to healthy eating habits.
In responsive feeding, infant hunger and satiety are given importance over portion sizes and quantity of food eaten. Parents are recommended to be patient and encouraging at the table rather than force feed set amounts of food. Responsive feeding also recommends experimenting with different foods, combinations, tastes, and textures.
Baby led weaning primarily focuses on all the above tenants as a part of its framework. – Providing family foods, a wide variety of foods, encouraging self-feeding and no pressure at the table.
A study found that baby led weaning mothers adopted a more responsive feeding style compared to traditional approach. Thus laying a strong foundation for future healthy eating habits.
- Healthy weight gain
Young infants are more in tune with their hunger and posses appetite regulation skills. Baby led weaning helps the child to understand his own appetite and allows the child to feed in response to hunger. This key skill once learned allows for a steady weight gain throughout childhood and lowers the risk of being overweight.
- Developing motor skills
Self-feeding requires a lot of skill. Think about it, the baby needs to locate the food on his table with his eyes, pick the food in palmer grasp or pincer grasp skillfully so as not to let it slip, bring to mouth and then feed.
These complex set of actions are learned quickly by our little ones given the chance to explore food on their own. Imagine the type of feedback to the brain if a child does this from the beginning of their weaning journey. This type of interaction with food, though messy and clumsy looking impacts their motor skills and brain development deeply.
- Cognitive development
I have already mentioned in a previous blog post how messy eating positively impacts language development. Why invest in elaborate sensory play activities when you can provide this in the form of interaction with food at meal times. Both sensory play and baby led weaning benefits brain development in a similar way.
- Independence and confidence
Lastly, a point that is missing on this subject in most articles talking about baby led benefits. The process of baby led weaning helps make children independent and confident eaters. The confidence your child develops as he learns to eat on his own and successfully at that is amazing to watch as a parent.
As your child navigates through the different combinations of foods, textures, and flavors he develops his own unique style of eating and tackling each course of the meal.
He begins to learn when to stop eating when to ask for more, and request how he likes some foods.
He slowly gains confidence in understanding his own appetite and eating style through the independence baby led weaning provides. All these seemingly simple learnings are key to setting lifelong healthy eating habits.
I have observed most of these baby led weaning benefits through our weaning journey. I am sure there were a few points here that you may not have associated with baby led weaning. But all of these together contribute to an all-round love for eating and healthy habits from the beginning.
Did you notice these benefits of baby led weaning with your child?
If you are a new mom planning your weaning journey I hope this post helps you understand baby led weaning and its benefits better. There are many articles on this blog to help you begin.
Take a moment to search for topics under the baby led weaning tag. Do leave me a comment below if you have any doubts, I am always here to answer your queries.