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As parents, you make a lot of decisions on behalf of your children. Introduction to solid food is one of the biggest changes or decisions every parent makes for their babies. Now that you have decided to begin the new journey by introducing solid foods to your baby, it's quite obvious that you want to try as many varieties as possible.

Undoubtedly, you will get a plethora of options and ideas on baby-led weaning foods with a single click on Google. However, Personal and cultural beliefs influence how we feed our children. You'll probably, get it if you speak to other mothers about how they started solid foods for their children. So, take a deep breath if your mind is spinning on the weaning approach, nutrient intakes, safety precautions, feeding process, schedules or food allergies, etc. because this article has come to your rescue with an appropriate approach to infant feeding.

Tip of the day

The most useful thing you can buy in your journey to eating solid foods is a high chair. It will be a complete mess until you child will learn to eat properly, but at least this way you can contain some of it. These chairs are foldable, very stable, wipeable and fun for the little ones.


What is baby-led feeding?

The feeding process known as "baby-led weaning; (BLW for short) is a method of feeding newborns that allows them to feed themselves straight away. The food needs to prepare in thick finger-size chunks that are soft and easily squishable between your fingertips. Because it helps the child to grasp while eating, and it also reduces the danger of choking. In addition, sticking to finger foods promotes the development of mental agility and hand-eye coordination abilities.

As baby-led weaning involves letting your baby eat himself instead of conventional spoon-feeding or spoon-feeding purees. Some parents implement BLW even without knowing it. In most cases, it happens with second kids. Because children are fond of imitating their older brother or sister in everything and food is no exception. They often try to eat from their sibling's plates and are content to feed themselves in the same way their older sibling does.

According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, "this aids in the development of a baby's social dining skills while also providing them with a sense of significance and confidence." As per the traditional weaning, the appropriate age is 6-7 months.

However, it is our responsibility as parents to ensure that we give age-appropriate meals of the proper size and texture. Therefore, this article will inspire you to give a variety of food most safely and enjoyably because studies suggest that newborns are far more ready and open to various foods than children between the ages of 2 and 8 years.

 

What is the right age to introduce solid foods?

When your baby is approximately six months old, you should begin introducing solid meals, often known as complementary feeding or weaning. Some parents struggle high on initial complimentary feeding periods, which is an absolute wrong because, initially, it's essential to get your kid accustomed to the notion of eating than how much they eat. Remember, even though; your baby is on complementary foods, infant formula or breast milk are still their main source of nutrients and energy till 6-9 months. So, starting around 6 months of age, give your child a variety of foods in addition to breast or formula milk to help them develop healthy eating habits for a lifetime. It may take some time for you to be able to boost the level and range of foods that your baby eats; till then, your baby can eat the same family meals.


6-7 months babies

Exclusive breastfeeding is the best food that a baby can have till 6-7 months. As it's 24*7 hours available with perfect temperature, plus it's completely free for your baby. After that, you can continue breastfeeding as long as you both want. We recommend first infant formula feeding as the only alternative if you choose to supplement breast milk. Remember to not offer cow milk, goat, or sheep milk as a drink until your baby is one year old.

Start giving them food before their normal milk feed because they won't be interested once their tummy is full, but don't wait until your baby is ravenous. 

Remember that initially, 6 to 7 months old babies don't require three meals per day because of the tiny tummies; offer them very small amounts of foods like few pieces or a few teaspoons of liquid food. Allow lots of time and allow your child to move at their own pace. 

Start with single vegetables and fruits, such as parsnip, broccoli, potato, apple, yam, sweet potato, carrot, pear, mashed, blended, or soft-cooked sticks. You may also try mixing baby rice with your child's regular milk. Before giving your infant any cooked food, make sure it has completely cooled. Dairy products like cottage cheese or cream cheese or plain yogurt can be offered at 6-7 months. Remember to choose the product with 0% added sugar because babies don't need added sugar or salt in their meals.

It's good if you could introduce a cup without a valve from the 6 months. Because your baby will learn to sip, and it is healthier for her teeth as well. You may also offer water with meals. 


9-12 months babies

Generally, babies between 9-12 months get mature for the transitional feeding stage. These babies are now familiar with different textures and flavors of foods. Hence, it becomes easy to feed them. 

Just like adults, babies are also in need of a wide variety of nutrients at this age. Because babies are growing rapidly in their first year, they are learning all motor skills at this age. Hence they need iron-rich foods, multiple vitamins, calcium, protein, etc. In addition, we recommend breastfeeding on demand if you both want it.

They should consume five vegetables and fruits each day, even though their serving sizes are small, probably 1/4 cup for a 1-year-old. Have you heard about "Eat the rainbow"? It represents different colors of foods like green is peas, beans, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, etc., while orange is for cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, oranges, etc. A yellow stand for banana, ripe avocado, squash, and red is red apple, cooked or raw tomatoes, etc., in a nutshell, serve your baby as many colors of natural fruits or veggies as possible in a day.

Ensure to serve your baby soft foods. After the baby's first birthday, they are more open to new textures and flavors. However, you still need to avoid slippery food and some choking hazards like nuts, grapes, chunks of meat. 

Be aware of allergenic foods when you introduce new meals to your baby's diet. one new meal at a time should be introduced so that any negative reactions may get detected promptly. Keep in mind that nuts and shellfish are two of the most frequent childhood allergies, so talk to your child's pediatrician about the best method to introduce them to your infant.

Your baby will make amusing faces as they try new tastes and textures, and they will almost certainly reject some foods along the way. So you need to be more patient: if Be patient; if couscous doesn't work out one night, give it another try, you may never know when it may become one of the favorite food for your baby. 

 

Benefits of Baby-led weaning


Makes baby independent:

As weaning allows your baby to feed herself somehow, they become independent to choose what they want to eat. Moreover, it allows the baby to chew rather than merely swallowing. One of the crucial benefits it offers is that it prevents mothers from pushing the food into the baby's mouth without knowing the capacities, which ultimately leads the baby to many digestive conditions. On the other hand, in weaning, your child has control over how much they require because it teaches them an important lesson to stop eating when their tummy is full.


Baby explores a variety of foods:

Encourages infants to grow more used to a wider range of textures and flavors. This may make children more likely to have more diversified and healthful dietary preferences in the long term. Several studies have found that babies exposed to a wide variety of foods are less likely to develop food allergies later in life. Moreover, it gives children an opportunity to explore the texture, taste, aroma as well as color of various foods.


Involvement in family mealtimes:

Isn't it amazing that your baby begins to sit with the entire family during meal times! Baby-led weaning is an opportunity for your baby to enjoy the frequency of family meals with the family. In this feeding approach, your baby does eat the same family meals but inappropriate pieces of food (without sugar or salt). Moreover, your baby learns to self-feed by their hands, spoon just like you. Gradually, they will adapt themselves to the frequency of family meals and routines. 


Develops motor skills:

Through baby-led weaning, your child learns, chewing rather than swelling by safely handling the food, which is the key benefit of weaning. Moreover, kids learn to manage various tastes, shapes, sizes, textures, and flavors of the food. In addition, they develop fine coordination of hands and eyes by grasping the food in hand by moving it into their mouth. While eating finger foods, kids learn to use the tongue by moving the food forward and backward or side to side inside their mouth. They even make a circular chewing pattern with their jaw.

Always keep in mind that learning these skills may take months, and the best and only way to learn is practice. Hence, encourage your little one to explore and learn new skills by arming yourself with patience. The initial method of baby chewing is a simple up-and-down munching pattern. However, when they become masters in a rotary chewing pattern, they will eat like an adult. Your baby's muscles will strengthen, allowing him or her to chew and move with accuracy. They'll also learn to use their eyes, hands, lips, and teeth in unison. Ultimately, all of these will aid your little one to be less messy!


It's easier:

Baby-led weaning is easier for mothers because purees take a long time to make. While it's far easier to modify what the adults are eating to accommodate the infant than to prepare a whole separate meal. Moreover, as baby eats on their own, it allows you to enjoy your meal time with family as well. In a nutshell, it saves your time blending, freezing, or defrosting homemade food for the baby.


Lower risk of obesity:

The skill of mindful eating in adults has proved numerous benefits, so why not implement it on kids? According to a study, Baby-led feeding has decreased the risk of obesity in kids as well, because kids learn self-control at an earlier age, which in the long term helps them to be conscious of their satiety cues and ultimately reduce the risk of obesity later in life.

It's important to note that baby-led weaning may not work the same way for every child. For example, babies with neurological problems or prematurity should consider traditional spoon-feeding. 


People Also Ask:


Should I continue to breastfeed or start my kid on infant formula even after weaning?

Absolutely. Breast milk or first infant formula will provide them with the majority of their energy and nutrients initially. During the first year, breast milk or first baby formula should be their primary source of nutrition; you can nurse for as long as you both wish. Remember that your baby's stomach is small and fills up rapidly; therefore, milk feeds are better to offer after solids. 

 

When my baby will stop messing food all around him?

Breast milk or first infant formula will continue to provide the majority of their energy and nutrients. On the other hand, Offering your child only finger foods and allowing them to feed themselves from the beginning rather than spoon-feeding or mashed meals is known as baby-led weaning. Parents may offer a variety of small, finger-sized bites. However, some mothers choose baby-led weaning over spoon-feeding, while others use a combination of the two methods. We believe there is no right or wrong approach; what matters is that your baby consumes a range of foods and receives all of the nutrients he or she requires. 

 

Which is better baby-led weaning or conventional weaning?

There is nothing like a BLW vs conventional weaning because family structure or style of feeding and many other factors affects individually in every baby. However, babies with baby-led weaning (solid food introduction) were reported to be adapted to various textures and flavors of food compared to conventional feeding or spoon-feeding.

 

How to begin baby-led weaning?

When you are determined to introduce your baby to solid food, you need to follow some basic principles to make this exciting journey of your baby more enjoyable. The key factor is don't give up breastfeeding or bottle feeding completely. Instead, infect, skip the schedule and in these intervals, offer your baby soft foods. It is highly advisable to prepare food according to the month of age. 

 

What should a twelve month old eat?

When your baby reaches the first birthday, they are open for almost food like an adult. Your child should be eating three meals in a day, and between these three meals, they also need healthy snacks like fruits or vegetable sticks like avocado slices or toast or dairy products like cheese. However, whatever they eat, still kids don't need added sugar or salt or cooking water at this age.


Conclusion

Weaning is a big change for your baby as well as you. Here's what you should keep in mind. There is no right or wrong approach as long as your children are healthy and developing. The only thing matter is what is most beneficial to you and your family.

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