One of a parent’s biggest responsibilities is feeding their baby. With a child still learning to eat, mealtime can get hectic since you manage two meal plans instead of just one and have to clean up after.
But the job won’t last forever because, at some point, your baby will learn how to eat on their own. Although that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be as stressful.
Weaning can be difficult, but it doesn’t come without benefits. If you’re the type of parent who wants your children to grow up strong and independent, this may be your first step towards that upbringing.
What Is Weaning?
Weaning is spoon-feeding or teaching your baby how to self-feed—those are the two ways of weaning. After that, it’s simply introducing your child to their first solid foods or soft foods if they’re not yet ready.
You can practice weaning at six months but stay on the breastmilk. Always remember the popular saying, “Food is for fun until year one.”
When you spoon-feed your child, that’s called traditional weaning. Traditional weaning has been the norm for a while now, and most of us have probably been weaned traditionally. In traditional weaning, you scoop food for your baby and feed it to them directly, giving them very little control over what they eat, down from how they eat it to the food they ingest.
Here are some of the ups and downs:
You’re in Control
While spoon-feeding your baby can be difficult—for both you (your patience) and your baby—doing so gives you control over what goes into your baby’s mouth. In addition, since you’ll be feeding baby using a spoon, you can take them away from choking hazards. In traditional weaning, you should stick to purees or baby food.
Since you’ll be feeding baby their own food, you’ll also have to prepare a separate meal. Traditional weaning is known to be more time-consuming than baby led weaning, but at least you’ll have full control over your baby’s meals. If you don’t mind the extra effort that goes into making baby food, then traditional weaning could work for you.
It’s hard guessing what’s on your baby’s mind, especially during mealtime. Sometimes your baby gobbles up every spoon you feed them; sometimes, they don’t want to touch their food at all. During times like this, you essentially play a guessing game with your baby, and it can be extremely frustrating to feel like you’re doing everything wrong.
When feeding your baby or toddler food using a spoon, make sure you take note of their body language. For example, turning their head or pushing away from food can mean they’ve had enough or lost their appetite.
Baby Led Weaning
While baby led weaning is relatively new, it’s slowly becoming the new normal for baby feeding. In baby led weaning, you allow your baby to learn the art of self-feeding by giving them a spoon of their own and guiding them.
Baby led weaning is how to teach baby to feed himself with spoon–this allows for a lot of independence and has a lot of subtle benefits attached to the method. Here are a few, along with some downsides:
Your Baby Is in Control
As said, baby led weaning allows babies to be independent with their meals. This form of weaning lets them choose their food and eat as much as they want to, saving you from the hassle of guessing whether or not they have an appetite for your food.
Less Trouble Preparing
Since your baby is eating independently, they are now included in the family meal plan instead of having a different meal plan (often composed of pureed foods). In addition, baby-led weaning eliminates the hassle of preparing a separate meal for your baby since you’ll be eating the same food.
Learning how to teach baby to eat with spoon may be troublesome in the beginning, but it can save you a lot of time in the long run.
Introducing spoons to your baby as they eat their food is also great practice for their motor skills and hand-eye coordination. The learning process can take quite a while to get used to, but introducing utensils or finger food when eating meals could lead to fine motor skills in the future.
You could even squeeze in some lessons on table manners, too!
Try using the hand method when teaching your baby how to self-feed.
Lack of Parental Control
Once your baby starts eating at their own pace, they can eat too much. Make sure you’re present when your baby is eating solid foods since they may not be aware of any foods that can be a choking hazard or could cause a food allergy.
In baby led weaning, you must watch how many sugars, salts, and fats come into their food. Supervising your baby’s meals can prevent choking, allergies, and overeating.
A messy meal is a given–your children are new eaters, after all. Of course, they can make a mess in their high chair or dining table, but you must introduce utensils to your babies. Utensil use paired with more practice might do the trick.
When Do Babies Start to Feed Themselves With a Spoon?
Ideally, you start weaning at six months. But that doesn’t mean you get them off the breast milk. Instead, let your child stay on breast milk until their first birthday before fully introducing them to solid foods.
As for when do babies use spoons, age isn’t the only factor when figuring out whether your child is ready for solid foods. Here are some clear indicators your baby is ready for their first utensil:
- Holding their head up and sitting up unsupported
- More tongue control
- Toy chewing
Watch out for these signs when you think your baby might be ready for their first spoon. Most babies show such signs at this age, but remember that it’s different for every baby.
What to Feed Your Baby When Weaning
Introducing solid foods to your baby is a big step in their development, but as it is with great strides, remember you can always take it slow, one step at a time. While getting them used to solid foods is important, you should also be careful with feeding your baby.
Here are some foods you can let your baby explore:
Well-Cooked Meat, Fish, and Poultry
Meat, fish, and poultry are some of the best foods you can introduce your baby to. These will likely make up the bulk of their diet in the future, so you must get your baby used to the texture and taste of these proteins.
Make sure the meat, fish, and poultry are served in small, soft chunks. Thicker foods won’t do—they’re choking hazards and may not be able to fit inside your baby’s mouth.
Steamed or Roasted Vegetables
Vegetables are great, too! Make sure you get your baby used to their greens so mealtime won’t be a problem in the future. Steaming and roasting your vegetables will make them easier to ingest. Be careful not to fry them, though, since fats aren’t good for a baby’s diet.
Soft fruits like bananas and very ripe melons are also great starting foods for your baby, as well as cut-up or sliced berries and avocado. Scoop up as much as you need to give your baby a wider array of textures to experience. Make sure the pieces are cut up smaller than bite-size, so your baby can chew and ingest them without trouble.
Ashtonbee’s Baby Utensils
If you’re looking for a baby weaning companion, Ashtonbee‘s got you covered! Our products are designed solely for your baby, their needs, and their safety.
Our baby spoons, in particular, are constructed with high-quality food-grade silicone and BPA-free—the best material for your baby’s mouth. It’s gentle on the gums and a wonder to clean as they are both hand washable and dishwasher-friendly. So get rid of regular spoons and forks for your baby. Get the right spoon from Ashtonbee and ensure their safety.
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