Time goes quickly. It seems like yesterday you had just found out that you were pregnant, and now your baby is already six months old and it’s time to think about solid foods. Until now, they have just had breast milk or formula, but how does one begin introducing solid foods? Is it dangerous to mix Baby Led Weaning and Purees?
Should your baby’s first solid food be pureed, or what about other approaches like Baby Led Weaning (BLW)? Should these two options be combined?
Firstly, what is Baby Led Weaning (BLW)?
At around 6 months old, babies are developmentally ready to start solid foods. Parents either buy commercial pureed foods, or smash up fruits and vegetables like carrots or bananas, vitamize some mince, or feed some fortified rice cereal or oatmeal. Basically, whatever they eat at this age, it is liquid or in a pureed form.
BLW though is something a bit different. It is when parents let the baby decide when they want solids, and they eat regular foods at the family table like beef lasagne with steamed vegetables for example, which are not mashed or pureed. Experts say it benefits babies because they improve their motor skills, learn to control their own food intake and hunger satiety, and even stay on a better growth track.
But some are against BLW because they worry about choking, or that the baby is not getting enough vitamins, or getting too much salt, trans fats or sugars at the adult table. However, if families change their diets to be better for the baby, then these fears usually don’t eventuate. Also, studies show these self-fed babies are not likely to choke, for instance, any more than spoon fed ones.
However, why not have the best of both worlds? You can actually mix these methods of spoon fed and BLW.
Combining Baby Led Weaning and Spoon-Feeding Options
Parents, who don’t feel confident enough to use only the BLW approach, are also concerned about the safety of mixing finger foods with purees at the same time. It’s common to hear them say that combining both might even increase the choking risk, which is every parent’s worst nightmare. According to several specialists working in the area of infant feeding, this is not true! It’s a safe approach appearing to meet most of the infants’ needs.
Speech pathologists also say that combining the method of purees via spoon feeding and letting your baby self-feed with high nutritional value finger foods, appears to meet most of the infants’ needs. In addition, they say that BOTH purees and finger feeding facilitate the progression of skills, such as chewing, spitting, swallowing, gagging, etc.
By combining BLW finger foods with spoon feeding, parents can also offer mashed or pureed foods that are rich in iron, zinc and Vitamin B12. Those that a baby might not eat enough of through finger foods alone. These nutrients are especially important as they begin to wean from breastmilk, and have high nutrient needs for their growth.
If you want to give it a go and try combining the two methods, here are some tips:
- Offer a variety of nutritious finger foods, but still feed them pureed or mashed versions of a variety of foods. Eespecially those rich in iron, zinc and Vitamin B12, if you are concerned.
- Let your baby use the spoon themselves if they want to.
- If your baby likes finger foods more, slowly add them in, and lessen the pureed versions.
- Try not to “hide” foods through baked products (muffins, fritatta’s etc), and let your baby discover and enjoy each food in its natural form.
- By seven or eight months old, give more finger foods, and less pureed foods.
Is it Dangerous to Mix Baby Led Weaning and Purees? In Summary…
If you combine these feeding methods or use just spoon fed pureed food, be sure to offer your baby a wide mix of nutritious options rich in iron, B12 and zinc, and other vitamins and minerals children need to be healthy.
Don’t rush your child. Six months and beyond is when their motor skills and neck control develop and the tongue extrusion reflex disappears to better handle the BLW approach. It is unsafe to start it earlier.
All in all, babies should start their solid food journey at around six months, and at this exciting time, they can start eating mashed, pureed or table foods, depending on the parent’s choice and what the baby can handle. Let it be a fun, creative time filled with a variety of senses for your baby to enjoy! Is it Dangerous to Mix Baby Led Weaning and Purees? No!