We love baby-led weaning because it allows for independent eating and empowers children. It’s both beneficial to your child and also to you as a parent— you don’t need to make baby food or sit and spoon feed your child! Let’s dive into what baby-led weaning is, it’s benefits, and why we love it so much.
This style of baby feeding became popularized when the book Baby-Led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkettwas published in 2008 (with a second edition released last year), though it’s not a new concept in many cultures worldwide.
The book suggests that babies should have the autonomy to feed themselves what they want, instead of being spoon-fed passively. Starting at about six months old, when the child can sit up, stabilize their head, and actively put food into their mouth, the theory invites you to do so. This allows the child to have autonomy over what they eat and how much they eat, and allows for a wider range of textures and flavors for the child to explore. It also reports to help their dexterity as well as hand-eye coordination and building their independence. It also allows them to develop their ability to eat solid foods quicker, the method purports, since eating pureed food is the same sucking motion as breast or bottle feeding, sometimes delaying the child’s ability to enjoy solid foods.
Other benefits, according to Rapley and Murkett’s book, include the ability of a child to partake in family mealtime, gaining confidence “in their own abilities and judgment,” and that children learn to trust food because they are relying on their instincts and are allowed to reject food they do not want. Of note, research is still inconclusive on most accounts, but the methodology has become widely accepted among many doctors, as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics offering it as an option.
One of the most common concerns amongst parents is that this style of feeding will be more of a choking hazard, but the risk has not been found to be higher than feeding with puree. Another thing to keep in mind is ensuring your child gets the proper balance of nutrition, including iron, if they are self-selecting which foods they consume.
We will caution you, though… this style of feeding can get quite messy. Just something to keep in mind before you get started! You may want to put a towel or a tablecloth under the high chair to make cleaning up easy. Eventually, the mess will resolve itself, and won’t be more than if you tried another style of feeding.
We intentionally designed the Nummy Bowl to help promote baby-led weaning. It helps the youngest babies pick up foods. By using a Nummy bowl, your child can push the food against the wall of the Nummy Bowl, and scoop it up with their hands. "My daughter, Tori, is 8 months old, and she can easily pick up food when it’s in the Nummy Bowl. It’s a lot harder for her to pick it up when the pieces are lying on the high chair tray,” shared Brooke, founder and CEO of Nummy.
How you decide to feed your baby, like most parenting decisions, is up to you! We love this methodology because of the ease, the potential health benefits, and the ability for babies to participate in mealtime with the family. As always, do your research and determine what is best for you, your family, and your child!
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