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Baby Led Weaning VS Traditional Weaning: What You Should Know

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  • July 25, 2022
  • MKB Team

First smile, first laugh, first crawl, first steps. Babies reach many such milestones during the first few years of their life. And during this phase, babies also learn how to eat and feed themselves. There are multiple ways through which babies can feed themselves. One such way is called ‘Baby Lead Weaning’. 

Baby Led Weaning (BLW) has gained popularity in the last few years owing to the advent of social media and the rise of mom bloggers who propagate the method. This article will help you understand the types of feeding methods available for babies.

 

Difference between Baby Led Weaning and Traditional Weaning

Both traditional and baby-led are complementary feeding (or ‘weaning’) ways when foods are introduced to your child to ‘complement’ the ongoing milk feeds of infant formula or breastfeeding. This usually begins at 6 months of age, when a baby’s digestive, renal and oral motor skills are developed enough to manage solid foods. 

Traditional Weaning

In the traditional weaning method, food is introduced to the baby in a puree form and the texture progresses over time. When you start feeding, the food is pureed, so it is the parent/caregiver who spoon-feeds the baby. When the texture progresses to a thick puree, parents can load the spoon and hand it to their baby to practice self-feeding. After purees, mashed foods and then eventually, chopped foods are introduced. 

Baby Led Weaning

Baby-led weaning on the other hand is different from the above as it is a way by which babies are encouraged to self-feed themselves from their first bite itself. Usually, babies are provided with a range of foods at their disposal. There is less reliance on pureed foods, and more on finger foods as the former requires spoon feeding, which the babies cannot do at that time. 

With BLW, the goal is to allow babies to explore textures, understand their own bodies and gain competence to get foods to their mouths by themselves. 

Baby Led Weaning VS Traditional Weaning - which is better?

One of the biggest advantages of traditional weaning is the parent’s confidence in knowing that their baby has consumed the food you fed them. With purees, the parent tends to be more in control and therefore they know how much their baby ate. 

Premature babies may need to start with the traditional weaning method as they may depend upon parents for a while until they are well-developed to eat on their own. 

A lot of parents feel more confident that their baby will not choke with the use of traditional weaning method. However, the risk of choking also depends on the foods provided to the babies. 

In Baby Led Weaning, a lot of parents believe that a more responsive feeding environment is created. There is less food fussiness, more enjoyment of food, and early ability of self-feed. Some studies have also suggested that BLW helps babies to be more responsive to their hunger cues and better regulate their energy intake and weight. 

However, some valid concerns of choking, insufficient energy, and micronutrients intake exist in BLW. But, choking risks exists in both traditional weaning and BLW. Research shows, that as long as parents avoid or modify foods that are a choking hazard, there is no increased risk of choking between these 2 feeding methods.  

Top Tips by Team MKB:

Avoid foods that lead to choking hazards:

  • Raw apple, carrot, celery, or other hard uncooked fruits/vegetables
  • Candies
  • Marshmallows
  • Round foods like grapes, whole nuts, olives, etc
  • Dried fruits like raisins etc if not cut down in small pieces
  • Popcorn
  • Chunks of peanut butter

Tips to avoid choking:

  • Ensure that your baby is sitting upright while eating
  • Never leave them unsupervised

The right time to wean:

  • Wean when baby is ready and old enough, not before 17 weeks / 4 months.
  • It always helps to start solids when the baby can sit.

Meal inclusions:

  • Iron-rich food (eg. meat, fish, pulses fortified cereals & bread)
  • Energy-rich food (eg. Carbohydrates such as bread or pasta)
  • Fruits or vegetables
  • Finger foods need to be roughly as long as the child’s fist. It should be well-cooked and soft enough to squish between your fingers, so that baby can mash it with their tongue in their mouth and there’s no choking risk

There's no way to tell which method is right, or better than the other. They both have their pros and cons. However, moms at large tend to do, what's referred to as combination feeding. Here, they blend both of the above methods. 


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MKB Team

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