Baby-led weaning concerns
If you are thinking about baby-led weaning, here we take a look at some of the concerns parents have
Whilst some parents prefer baby-led weaning to spoon feeding, the notion of your child being in charge of how they eat can seem scary to others. Essentially, exclusive baby-led weaning means skipping spoon-feeding blended and mashed foods and letting babies feed themselves with finger foods right from the start. This naturally leads to some common questions and concerns, and interestingly whilst there is no right or wrong answer, NHS advice recommends a mixture of spoon fed and finger foods.
Won’t my baby choke?
Choking is a real concern with any feeding, so supervision is essential whenever your baby eats.
It’s also important that we recognise the difference between gagging - which is a safety mechanism to help your baby avoid choking and real choking.
There is no evidence to support the notion of sole baby-led weaning and the NHS recommends a mixture of baby-led and spoon fed from the outset. Baby-led weaning can help baby learn to chew and swallow at a time when their gag reflex is still very close to the front of the mouth. As your baby grows, the place in their mouth that triggers the gag reflex moves further back towards the throat.
Follow these tips to be safe
- Stay with your baby while they eat
- Make sure baby is sitting up properly when eating
- Serve soft foods that you can squish between your fingers - raw apples can be one of the biggest choking hazards for babies
- Babies sense your panic so do not rush to help your baby if they gag. Instead, stay calm and give your baby time to work it out calmly
If you find that your baby seems to gag a lot, wait a week or two before continuing. Or, offer mashed foods and then slowly introduce finger foods.
Will my baby get enough to eat?
Relax in the first year, weaning is all about introducing baby to new tastes and textures and teaching baby to swallow and chew food. Your baby’s usual milk (breastmilk or formula) will meet the majority of baby’s nutritional needs from 6-12 months of age.
If you worry that you’ll want to know what your baby is eating, you can mix spoon-fed weaning with baby-led weaning which is recommended and will give you a better idea of what they are actually consuming.
Will my baby get enough iron?
Iron is one of the most vital nutrients yet it’s the commonest deficiency in babies and toddlers. Babies are born with a natural store of iron which last them around 6 months. After this time, it’s important that you give iron rich foods to your baby twice a day. The good news is that there are lots of iron rich finger foods that you can choose if you follow a baby led weaning approach.
Iron rich finger foods for a six-month-old baby
- Soft cooked broccoli ‘trees’
- Egg omelette cut into strips
- Toast sticks with tahini (sesame paste)
- Strips of braised beef
- Flakes of cooked fish
- Roasted chicken drumstick (yes really! Just because your baby can’t bite or chew they can suck and gnaw
- Piece of iron-fortified tofu
Iron-rich options for babies aged 8-10 months include
- Cooked red meat or chicken cut into pieces
- Scrambled eggs/sliced of hard-boiled egg
- Iron fortified ‘O’ shaped cereal