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How do you do baby led weaning?

By Michelle Lorraine Embleton B.Sc. Ph.D. (biochemist).
Last Update: 11/14/2022

Michelle Embleton, inviTRA's biochemist, talks in this video about how to do the baby led weaning:

Once your baby reaches six months old and shows the signs of being ready to take solids, baby led winning can start. To do this you choose the food you want to introduce to your baby (which are usually foods you will be eating yourself in that meal time), and you can prepare them in a way that the baby can pick them up themselves and bring them to their mouth to eat. For example, cut into long strips (an example that comes to mind is a strip of carrot lightly cooked, so that it doesn't disintegrate when the baby picks it up but is soft enough that the baby can chew it). Don't forget at this age the baby may not have any teeth or may have just started to have their teeth erupt. Don't worry, the baby will eat quite well with its gums, thong and soft palete, but you need to bear this in mind when you are preparing the food that teeth may not be present, so you may need to try different cooking times and textures to find what works for you and your baby. This could be a process of trial and error but, usually, if you pick it up in your own hand and it doesn't squish too easily, it's a sign it will be just right for your baby. When thinking about foods to introduce what you should do is introduce one food at a time. In case of any allergic reactions you can introduce this food, in the morning ideally, and for three consecutive days to see if there's any reaction. By introducing it in the morning you have the whole day to see if there was any allergic reaction of any kind. And one more thing is to remember that when your baby starts on solid foods you should always offer them water as well (this can be done with a sippy cup you can pick up with two hands). When we think about what foods to give the baby, there aren't any rules of what foods to introduce first, as the baby themselves should be eating what you are eating in that meal or it may be prepared in a way that the baby can manage themselves. Good foods to start with are: soft cooked vegetables (carrots and broccoli...), perhaps potato, soft fruits (such as watermelon, ripe mango...). You can give them well-cooked meat (you may want to do this in the form of ground meat, perhaps made into a hamburger, in which case they can pick it up and eat it), you can give eggs (if you do give eggs make sure they're cut up into reasonable sized pieces and that the yolk is thoroughly cooked), you can give fish (but do make sure there are no bones in the fish and there are certain types of fish that you shouldn't give, which I'll cover in a minute). Pulses, lentils and chickpeas are all great foods to try and you can also make these into patties for them, in which your baby can pick up or perhaps indeed turn them into hummus (in which your baby could dip some bread in and eat in that way). And finally, of course, cereals, rice and pasta are all good foods that you can give to your baby. Foods you shouldn't give are food such as whole nuts. You can give ground nuts, but do be careful with whole nuts because of the choking hazard. Likewise, foods with an oval or round shape (such as frankfurter sausages or grapes or cherry tomatoes or olives). This shape can cause a choking hazard, so do be sure to cut them into a sensible size and shape before you offer them to your baby. Large top of the food chain fish, such as tuna or swordfish, should be avoided at this stage because they contain high levels of mercury. Rice milk contain arsenic, so this is another one to avoid and green leafy vegetables at this moment are not to be given because of their high iodine content. Honey is another food that shouldn't be given at this stage because of its risk of botulism and popcorn also does provide a choking hazard. Remember not to add any extra sugar or salt to the food that you are giving the baby and not to give cow's milk until the baby is a year old. Until the baby is zero, they should still be breastfeeding or formula feeding as you have been doing up until this point. Two more things to avoid would be gain meat and also fruit juices. Fruit juices are very high in sugars, it's much better to offer the baby the fruit itself rather than the juice.

 Michelle Lorraine Embleton
Michelle Lorraine Embleton
B.Sc. Ph.D.
PhD in Biochemistry, University of Bristol, UK, specialising in DNA : protein intereactions. BSc honours degree in Molecular Biology, Univerisity of Bristol. Translation and editing of scientific and medical literature.
Biochemist. PhD in Biochemistry, University of Bristol, UK, specialising in DNA : protein intereactions. BSc honours degree in Molecular Biology, Univerisity of Bristol. Translation and editing of scientific and medical literature.