Parents are trying a new type of weaning that skips the purees and lets your baby dive right into solid finger foods.
Weaning is when you start to slowly introduce your baby to solid foods or anything other than breast milk. Usually, most parents will choose to do this with purees and soft mashed food. However, some evidence suggests there are benefits to letting your baby move straight to little bite-sized pieces of appropriate food that they will pick up and feed themselves.
It is thought that this style of weaning could have an array of benefits, including aiding their motor skills, reducing the risk of developing allergies and allowing your baby to learn what their internal hunger cues are.
Weaning can be a complicated process for parents, as your protective instincts may make you concerned about choking or mistakes. But weaning is also a phase in your babies’ development that can be fun and exciting for you and them.
You can start by cutting up foods into small bite-sized portions – but make sure the pieces are large enough for your baby to hold themselves easily. Ideal foods are sweet potato, banana, mango, broccoli florets and avocado. All these different colours and flavours will be mentally stimulating for your baby, as well as being good for their gut health, vitamin intake and motor development skills.
In addition, this may encourage your baby to participate in family mealtimes than the spoon-fed method. Just be prepared for slightly more mess.
Next, place the food on a mat or plate directly in front of your bay and let them choose what they want to try. Try to avoid the urge to take things out of their mouth if they seem not to enjoy them. Instead, encourage them to spit it out by sticking out your tongue dramatically.
Your baby will also learn to enjoy different flavours and textures at an early age, which will discourage food aversions later on.
The WHO recommends beginning weaning at around six months of age. However, some parents may find their babies ready to do wean as early as four months.
As a general rule, when considering if you should start weaning you should look for all the following milestones:
- Your baby can sit upright themselves without being supported.
- They are able to hold up and support their own head.
- They are easily able to pick up objects and bring it to their own mouth.
- Your baby is displaying an interest in solid food and seems to lean toward it our mouth for it.
- Your baby is around the six month old mark.
Your baby may cough, gag or spit out their food dramatically, but this is actually a sign of them developing oral-motor movement and a gag reflex actually prevents your baby from choking.
Your baby may also think its very fun to simply pick up the food and play with it or squish it. Remember, this is all new to them and everything is a learning process – including play and familiarising themselves with strange new things.