Is Baby-Led Weaning Good or Bad?
Is this new way of weaning the way to go? It seems too good to be true right? Simply chopping up a few carrot sticks along with chunks of broccoli or even an entire drumstick seems like a dream for parents. So is baby-led weaning the answer to all our prayers, or is it just a fad?
1) Food is easy to prepare
Compared to traditional purees, carrot sticks and chopped up fruits can seem a lot easier for a busy working mummy to prepare. However, care has to be taken to ensure a wide range of different foods are provided, including protein and foods rich in iron. Your baby can be offered food that the whole family is eating, with little need for further preparation.
2) Less likely to be overweight
As this method of feeding involves a longer time frame (and a lot of patience!) the baby is less likely to overfeed, and more likely to respond to his body’s cues when he is full. This can lead to a reduction in childhood obesity. Some research suggests babies who feed themselves are more likely to control their appetite, perhaps reducing their risk of being overweight later in life. Other research suggests that’s not the case, so we don’t yet know for sure.
3) Reduce the likelihood of babies becoming a fussy eater
Your little one has the chance to choose, pick up and explore food themselves, helping them to gain independence. They get used to different food textures from the beginning. Parents often say that babies who choose what to feed themselves have wider food tastes. The evidence is mixed about whether baby-led weaning could stop babies from becoming fussy eaters.
1) Long meal times and poor nutrient intake
If baby-led weaning is followed strictly, the baby only eats what he puts in his own mouth. In the early days of self- feeding this can lead to prolonged mealtimes and poor intake of nutrients. Once a child has moved past the initial fruit and vegetable stages, it may become increasingly challenging to give sufficient meat and other protein sources as finger foods. It often involves a great deal of thought and preparation to provide a child with a nutritionally balanced food that he can self feed successfully. Recent studies have shown that babies fed solely by the baby-led method are at more risk of iron, zinc and vitamin B12 deficiency. They are also more likely to choose predominantly carbohydrate-based foods. Turns out there is no super- easy way of getting good nutrition into your child after all! One concern is whether baby led-weaning provides a varied and nutritious enough diet. However, numerous studies have now shown that babies take in enough energy with a baby-led weaning approach . And at this stage, milk feeds are still your baby's main source of nutrients and first foods are a way of exploring tastes and textures.
2) Higher risk of choking
Some parents worry that baby-led weaning is more likely to cause their baby to choke than spoon-feeding. Emerging evidence suggests that baby-led weaning may result in more gagging as babies get used to swallowing but no increased likelihood of choking.
3) Messier than spoon-feeding
Baby-led weaning is messier than spoon-feeding FOR SURE. But whether you’re spoon-feeding or baby-led weaning, you’re bound to have some mess at this age. Sometimes, a little tactile play isn't going to hurt them :)
Overall, there is no right or wrong way to begin feeding your child. Personal opinion though as an Asian, I cannot stand mess, I am with spoon-feeding until they can handle being a little more well mannered. Then I will gladly tell them to knock themselves out with the myriad of food options to their fancy.