Let's see what the hype is all about.

Petra Hapsari   23 August 2017 13:20

Six-month-old babies tend to start doing many things. At that age, babies can also start to eat more solid food than breast milk. So, babies can start learning how to eat, starting from mushy good such as baby porridge to soft food such as steamed rice.

Introducing first food to baby is not as easy as what we imagine. If we do not do it correctly, we might make the baby sick. As a mother, you should understand your baby’s situation and understand what kind of food you can give to the babies who start to learn to eat.

Recently, baby-led weaning method becomes the new controversy. Some say that it's a breakthrough, while some say that it's dangerous for babies.

But actually, what is baby-led weaning?

Baby-led weaning is one of the ways to introduce food to babies by letting them feed themselves. An English health adviser Gill Rapley was the one who popularized it.

Baby led-weaning encourages your babies to eat food they want with the amount they need, not what mother wants them to take. It allows your babies to explore food and know what they want. It also introduces the babies to various kinds of food.

When can we start baby-led weaning?

The experts along with The American Academy of Pediatric (AAP) recommend the right time for babies for baby-led weaning is when they are 6 months. During this age, babies are generally able to sit by themselves and take things around them. Besides, their tongues’ reflexes are better. They can chew and take out food, and their intestines are more ready to digest food.

However, age is not the only thing determining whether your baby is ready for baby-led weaning. Some babies might be able to practice baby-led weaning when they are 6 months, some might be not since they are not yet able to take something, chew food or maybe they have special need. It depends on their own condition and mothers should understand it before taking any decisions.

For mothers who feel like their babies are ready to practice baby-led weaning, it’s better for them to introduce baby-led weaning to babies during family dining time. Babies will see people around them, and they will imitate as babies find it easy to imitate older people. They often try to take food from their older siblings or parents, and they feel happy when they are able to do what they do.

What is the right food to give?

The right food to give during baby-led weaning is food are those that are easy for babies to hold — mostly known as finger food. Besides, it is important to start with soft food since their teeth are not grown completely. Cut the food into small pieces to enable them to hold it and do not give food that might choke them.

Give the babies various kinds of food from different food categories every day to let them get the required nutrition. Here are some food you can give to your babies:

  • Carbohydrate group such as potato, pasta, bread or soft rice.
  • Fat group, such as avocado.
  • Protein group such as chicken or soft-boiled meat, egg and fish without bones.
  • Fruits and vegetables group such as banana, papaya, broccoli and carrot — but make sure they are steamed first!
  • Dairy group, such as cheese and yogurt.

Is there any shortcoming of baby-led weaning?

It is normal if babies who start to learn how to eat drop their foods, especially for babies practicing baby-led weaning. There are a lot of lessons to learn when they are feeding themselves. They learn how to hold, take, put food inside their mouth, chew and swallow. Babies might face some difficulties at the first time of doing it, however, as the time goes by, they will get used to it. As a mother, you are supposed to be patient in dealing with it.

However, six-months-old babies who learn to eat are at risk in getting iron deficiency. Starting from the age of 6 months, the iron in their bodies will decrease, so they will need more iron from their food. However, it is still hard for the babies to eat solid food such as meat rich in iron. To meet their iron needs, mothers should be able to tackle it by giving pure meat, pure green vegetables, or fortified cereal. If needed, mothers can still feed the babies using spoon and not entirely by the baby-led weaning.

How to practice safe baby-led weaning?

Baby-led weaning is safe for babies if it is done correctly. Here are some tips to do it safely:

  • Avoid giving food which might cause them to get choke such as nuts, whole grape, apple with its skin and so on.
  • Do not leave the babies when they are eating, or they are near food.
  • Baby should eat in the position of sitting.
  • Pay attention if the babies have allergy. Babies will react if he has an allergy towards certain food. Thus, avoid giving food that cause them allergy.

The article was previously published in Hellosehat.com and all medical data has been reviewed by a licensed medical doctor.

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