Monday, 7 February 2011

Baby-led Weaning

Gill Rapley draws on her twenty years of experience and research into infant feeding and her work as a health visitor. 

This book briefly explains why we have moved from a breastfed diet, to purees, and how we can return to a milk and solid foods diet starting from 6 months of age. The method is suitable for breastfed, formula fed, or mixed feed babies. 

I am fascinated by the approach, which skips spoonfeeding and hands solid foods to babies who are old enough to sit up unaided, and able to bring food to their mouths.  I found the research and examples quite helpful.  Babies who are fed from age four months need purees because they cannot chew yet.  Babies develop the ability to chew, and manage food in their mouths from 6 months and above.  Babies who are allowed to develop naturally are able to suck on foods and then eventually manage to chew and swallow without choking. This natural progression is actually hampered by feeding babies purees.  It is a bit of a messy process, but not much more so than when babies usually start on solids. 

Giving babies solid foods to gnaw on is not new and actually practiced in much of the world.  In Tanzania, where my Other Half is from, the whole family eats off of a communal plate.  Babies are breastfed longer as a rule, but they can join in the family meal when they like.  The World Health Organisation actually suggests that babies are breastfed for two years.  I did this with my son and never really worried if he had enough solid food because breastmilk is so nutritious and provides most of what babies need.

My son did not have much trouble with spoonfeeding, but I did feel that something wasn't quite right with it.  As he got older, I especially was concerned about his getting enough of each nutrient and not too many sweets.  This book explains how to work through these dilemmas.  This approach advocates a healthy eating plan for the whole family to adopt.  And it supports mealtime routines.

This particularly appeals to me right now because our meals have definitely become haphazard over the last few years due to our work schedules.  I feel that my son, especially has suffered for this and has become more of a fussy eater of late.  I would like to follow some of the nutrition and family routine advice now.  Hopefully we will be all ready to adopt the baby led weaning techniques when this baby is 6 months old.

It will be quite a while before I can update on this, since she is currently about 3 months away from being born!

No comments:

Post a Comment