Baby Led Weaning

Growing healthy babies with healthy appetites

"Oh, we are doing Baby Led Weaning but I do use a spoon to get stuff down him if I don't think he's eaten enough'"

Great, you do that. Knock yourself out. But it's not baby led weaning you're doing, my friend, that's spoon feeding with some finger food.

Now, I'm not here to offend anyone, but it does need saying. I'm not against spoons, in fact I'm rather fond of them (particularly dessert spoons) and am keen that Babybear learns to use one at some point. Right now she's eight months old and if she wants to feed herself off a spoon then fabulous, or if I load up a spoon and she leans forward to take the food that's equally marvy.

Shoveling it in, however, is really not on in my opinion because the title Baby Led Weaning, while admittedly a touch cringeworthy, is not formed from three words plucked at random. If you want your child to 'lead' their own weaning then you have to trust that they know what they are doing. It does require something of a mental gear change, I understand, from the whole 'three-meals-a-day' thing that we are all used to, but it is a shift worth making.

So all of this means that if the babies seem to be saying that they aren't particularly hungry for solids at that particular moment, feel free to back off. Sometimes Babybear really surprises me by not fancying her favourite food, but if that's the case then I have to acknowledge that it's her stomach and her appetite and she knows best. On those days, she will generally take more milk to compensate, which is fair enough as she must know that the milk is higher in calories than even the tastiest broccoli tree. Perhaps it's her way of handling a wee growth spurt, who knows? It's not up to me, she's the baby and she is leading this weaning malarkey.

P.S. That, by the way, is as hippyish and child-centred as I ever intend to get. i started this whole baby led weaning thing because I am too lazy to puree, for goodness sakes…

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18 Responses to “"Oh, we are doing Baby Led Weaning but I do use a spoon to get stuff down him if I don't think he's eaten enough'"”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Aitch, this is something people have asked me – do I let her fart about with a bit of bread then actually give her her 'real' food? NOOOO. I do use a spoon sometimes but that is only to let her try things that are generally in polite society eaten with a spoon i.e. porrige, soup, mashed potato, etc. Also I just let her sook of as much as she wants and if she doesn't want any more fine. She can now take the spoon and eat it herself – only if it is food stuff that sticks upside down though (mashed potato!)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Exactly. It's the use of a spoon 'to get stuff down him if i don't think he's eaten enough' that is the source of my objection with regards to baby led weaning.
    We really have to trust that they know how much is enough for them and resist the temptation to shovel more in and thereby disrupt their own appetites and their ability to control what they eat.
    I'm not against cutlery, for god's sake, as I said I'm distinctly keen on it, but filling your child's face with food because some authority figure has told you they 'should be' on three meals a day is just not baby led, it's Health Visitor led weaning, which is not really what this blog is about. And once you get your head round that, you are laughing.

  3. Anonymous says:

    absolutly , also I think that the co-ordination that the wee ones are developing from feeding themsleves will mean moving onto proper use of cutlery will be easier and less spoon in the eye senarios. I would like to clarify also that I don't think polite society revolves around mashed potato and porridge – although that would be my kinda party

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have just started weaning my 6 month old baby, Isabelle, the baby-led way and so far she has tried avocado, carrot and melon, not much went down but its early days (first time I've seen her frown!) I do get a tad confused on what to feed her when, should i stick to veg and fruit for first month etc? do you know of any decent guideline to go by?
    But today she hasnt really eaten much at all as she's teething (got 2 lower front ones) and refused to breastfeed all day so i have been worrying about dehydration whilst trying to pump the boobs whilst trying to get her to drink milk from a cup, with interesting results, its a mucky job but my motto is embrace the milky muck, so going back to solids if you have any info on what when i would really appreciate it,
    and by the way this is a great site to find just when i thought i was on my lonesome on this finger food quest!

  5. Anonymous says:

    HI Janie, I can only really offer you advice based on my experience. My daughter Boomer is 7ish mths old. She has been grapping and eating things since about 5mths and 3/4s. I am just about learning to relax about whether she is getting enough – especially when I have helpful family members advising/telling me to mash her banana up for her. I would say its really only now that she is 'eating' things, up untill now she was munching bits, gumming bits and generally throwing stuff around. From a fruit and veg point of view , thats what she eats most of – strawberries being the favorite things, they are are the easiest to eat. I have given her meat and fish but I didn't really do this untill she was about 6 1/2 mths. In general I have become more confident the longer I do this, at first Boomer survived on banana mainly but the longer I've been doing it the more foods we've tried. There is a lot of advice about holding off from certain foodstuffs untill they are 1 due to allergys (strawberries included), but I generally have just done what I felt was ok at the time.

  6. Anonymous says:

    And i am being a bit more careful because my sister is quite allergicky. We, her parents, aren't, but i don't think it's work the risk having seen my wee sis blue-lighted to the hospital when she was a three-year-old.
    I'm going to have a root about to see if i can link to or publish a leaflet i read about introducing foods for the allergic infant. to be honest i haven't stuck to it religiously but there are some things that i amn't giving her (such as strawberries, for example…) because i have been told that they are the sort of thing that babies can become allergic to by exposure. Anyway, welcome Isabelle and let me see if i can locate that document for you so you can make your own mind up.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Done it. Go and see what you think, Janie, i reckon it's pretty strict but good to have something to work from.

  8. Anonymous says:

    thanks for finding this, i shall check it out but meanwhile on the menu today is sweet potato and melon! I love feeding her this way and so does she as she's such an independant young miss and likes to have her say in a situation!!
    By the way, so far when I've told people how I'm introducing food they have looked at me as if I'm a complete nutter (!) but last week i mentioned it to the NCT breastfeeding councellor and she was rather excited about it as it has come up in there conferences and she wants to start making it more known to mothers, which gave me alot more confidence to keep that rank pack of baby rice at the back of the cupboard!!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    i've got one of those too! perhaps one day i'll use it as a wallpaper glue but until then for some reason i can't bear to throw it out. i feel it has developed talismanic qualities…

  10. Anonymous says:

    and what baby rice consists of is rice flour, yuck! i wouldnt want that to be my first introduction into the world of gastronomy. She loved her melon today, got very upset when it fell out her chubby mitt, and what a huge huge chunk of carrot i found in her nappy (definately had to be saved for boyfriend to see- like its some miracle ha ha! food goes in food comes out……
    just thought she had woken up but luckily its only the demented seagulls swooping around, they are very loud round these parts, and sound surprisingly like the cry of a small baby. How many times a day do you feed solids? I do once a day which i thought would be good as an intro and maybe increase in a week or 2 or maybe longer… its quite nice that there isnt loads of guidelines for this type of weaning as you have to rely on your intuition and what you bundle of joy is telling you,

  11. Anonymous says:

    I started Boomer on one thing a day but I quite quickly (probably by about 6mths and 2 weeks) started to give her something when I was eating, whether out with the ladies or at home with hubster. The great thing is with baby led weaning if she doesn't want it she doesn't eat it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    So, if I give my son Luke solids throughout the day, but I also want to give him some soup or something else that requires a spoon or fork and I give it to him and he moves his head towards the spoon with excitement, that would still be baby led weaning right? Because I do spoon feed him when he is giving me the eye like he wants some of whatever is in that bowl, and letting him feed himself with the spoon would be counter productive. ( I do let him but he dumps it all over the place)

  13. Anonymous says:

    Well, I use a spoon for soup but I do wait for Minky to open her mouth and launch herself towards it. If anything went in her mouth that she didn't want, she'd just spit it out. At nearly nine months a spoon is getting nigh on impossible and she wants to do it all herself. Porridge is interesting…

  14. Anonymous says:

    i think so, yes. as it happens Babybear wasn't particularly interested in spoons and therefore didn't launch herself towards them, but when her motor control got better whe started grabbing them. So I gave her things like soup using crusty bread. i would spoon the barley and veg onto the bread and then leave it to cool a bit before handing it over.
    I don't think it's a question of being too hardcore, but i think if you are shovelling and persuading 'aw go on, just another bit etc etc' then that's probably counter-productive in the long-term.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Not seen any mention around so far, but apols if you've already heard of this one – I can highly recommend “My Child Won't Eat” by Carlos Gonzalez to read alongside the BLW info. It does go from baby to young child and I certainly found it alleviated all of my worries about whether K was getting enough food and to resolve to leave it in her hands. It also made me consider my actions and attitudes towards her (and my) eating.
    It's a LLL publication so it does naturally concentrate on b/f, but there are some useful parts for f/f too (mostly encouraging demand feeding, which a surprisingly large number of people struggle with the concept of, ime). There are some tips about allergies too, and I found the history section at the end very interesting and surprising. Overall it really encourages a laid-back approach to food at all stages and I found it really reassuring. My one regret is that I wish I'd had it when K was born as she put on weight very slowly after an illness and it would have saved me months of worry.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I'm glad you're reaching the same conclusions as I am about spoons – for some foodstuffs they are indispensable, but they are a bit tricky too as they enable shoving food into baby's mouth without them asking for it. But really it isn't any problem at all as long as you wait for them to make the first move.
    This is my daughter Madelief (7 1/2 months) showing the proper use of spoons.
    Oh, I'm new here … I started my twins on solid food about 6 weeks ago, when they were exactly 6 months old. They are having so much fun eating! And I love it too.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I'm a nanny so up until recently (Baby Girl will be one in two weeks) I've been limited in what I was “allowed” to give her. Now though we're doing finger foods all the time, with mom nursing her before and after work. I spoon-feed things that must be spoon-fed, like applesauce, baby yogurt, etc., but it's so clear whether she wants it or not–if not she'll push the spoon away, if so she'll lean forward in anticipation with her mouth open. This isn't rocket science, and I always stop when she says she's done–she eats breakfast, lunch, two afternoon snacks, and dinner (so every three hours) so I don't worry about her getting “enough” in the big picture.

  18. Anonymous says:

    okay, for the record yogurt can be dropped onto fruit and eaten that way and so can applesauce if you choose to serve it, so they don't really have to be eaten with a spoon. and while i might think it's perfectly clear when a child wants to stop eating, i have definitely seen friends of mine emply all sorts of distraction techniques to continue feeding their child because they have it in their heads that the baby 'needs' a certain amount to be 'full'. that's what i'm talking about, as it says in the title of the post. as it happens i didn't spoon feed ever, because i never saw the point when Babybear was demonstrably capable of feeding herself. but other people do, so whatever works for you in the end.

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