Introducing solids to your baby is an exciting and fun time, but parents often feel overwhelmed with how to get started with this journey. Let’s discuss two popular approaches: baby led weaning and purees.
When to start solids:
First of all, it is important that no matter which style of feeding you are choosing that your baby is developmentally ready for solids.
Health Canada recommends looking for the following signs of readiness. (1)
-Can sit up without support, lean forward, and have good control of their neck muscles.
-Ability to pick up food and try to put it in their mouth.
-Hold food in their mouth without pushing it out with their tongue right away.
-Open their mouth when they see food coming their way.
-Can let you know they don’t want food by leaning back or turning their head away.
These signs of readiness often occur around 6 months of age, although each baby is different. At 6 months, it is also important to note that baby’s iron stores from birth are depleting, so there is also an emphasis on introducing solids at this time to increase iron intake through foods.
Puree feeding is a traditional approach that involves starting the baby with thin, pureed textures that are spoon-fed. A child would then slowly progress through textures such as mashed, ground, and then finger foods.
Parents may feel more safe with this approach for a couple of reasons. First, this is often the method they and their parents are used to. Second, they may fear choking and feel overwhelmed to be offering larger pieces of food to their baby at first. It may also be easier to get a wide range of nutrients into the baby’s diet by mixing foods together into purees.
Some potential drawbacks to puree feeding include the potential of delaying the introduction to advanced textures too late. Delaying introduction of more advanced textures can lead to decreased texture acceptance through childhood, and decreased oral development. Puree feeding can also be more time consuming through the prep work of making separate meals, pureeing, and storing them.
Baby Led Weaning
Baby-led weaning has gained popularity in the last 10 years. It involves allowing baby to self-feed family foods in various textures. This allows you to feed baby various foods you may be eating. Many family friendly recipes are suitable for baby led weaning.
Although parents may fear risk of choking, there are studies to show there isn’t an increased risk associated with baby led weaning versus puree feeding. I encourage all parents to take infant choking and CPR courses when starting solids. Benefits to baby led weaning include acceptance to family flavours and foods, and increased fine motor and oral motor skills.
Potential drawbacks can occur if the baby is not interested in self feeding or not consuming adequate intake of iron rich foods. Offer your baby iron rich food sources 2-3 times per day. Iron rich foods include: beans, lentils, meat, eggs, and iron-fortified baby cereals.
Baby Led Weaning and Purees:
There is no right or wrong method to feed your baby. Gaining credible information, and making a decision that works best for you and your family is important.
Instead of feeling like you have to choose one approach versus the other, you can opt to do a mixed approach. You can offer some puree foods while adding in some more textured foods that you feel more comfortable with.
If choosing the pureed approach in feeding your baby, by 8 months, it is important to have introduced more advanced textures into the baby’s diet. So whichever method you begin with, by 8-9 months foods offered to babies would be roughly the same.
Register for the Starting Solids Webinar
If you are ready to start solids or are new in your journey, you can join the online Starting Solids Safely webinar HERE where we will discuss how to feed your baby in the first year whether baby led weaning or puree feeding – recording and replay is available.
Signs of Readiness. https://caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/pregnancy-and-babies/feeding_your_baby_in_the_first_year
Delayed introduction of lumpy foods to children during the complementary feeding period affects child’s food acceptance and feeding at 7 years of age http://Delayed introduction of lumpy foods to children during the complementary feeding period affects child’s food acceptance and feeding at 7 years of age