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  • Writer's picturePriyanka Goswami

Baby led weaning

Baby-led weaning is the practise of introducing solids to a baby who is six months or older by skipping the pureed and mashed-up stages and going directly to finger foods.

The term "baby-led weaning" refers to the method's central tenet: allowing your child to choose which healthy foods she eats from the very beginning (hence the requirement that the infant be at least 6 months old and capable of self-feeding).

The goal of baby-led weaning is to teach babies to chew (or more correctly, gum) and swallow safely and independently. The fact that infants can regulate how much food they eat also protects them from being force-fed.

However, that's not all it has going for it. Proponents and some studies point to the potential benefits of baby-led weaning, which include:[1]

Allows infants to become accustomed to more tastes and sensations. In the long term, this may lead them to prefer foods that are both nutritious and flavorful. Multiple studies have found that infants who are introduced to a wide range of foods early on (including peanut products and fish) have a lower risk of developing food allergies as they get older. When introducing new foods to your infant, it's important to remember that nuts (including nut butters) and seafood are among the most common childhood allergens.

Possible protection against childhood weight gain. Baby-led weaning, like breastfeeding, enables the baby to self-regulate her eating based on her hunger levels, as opposed to spoon-feeding, in which the parent is in control (which may cause babies to eat faster and more than they really need, potentially leading to a habit of ignoring feelings of fullness). That may reduce the risk of childhood obesity compared to children who are served exclusively through spoons.

Facilitates the growth of fine motor skills. Hand-eye coordination and agility can benefit from a diet heavy on finger foods.

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