The feeding stages of a baby can be stressful for new parents, but there are a lot of support groups that are happy to lend a helping hand. Spoon-led weaning and baby-led weaning are the two most common feeding methods that parents undertake when they transition from breastfeeding or formula feeding.
Spoon-led Weaning (SLW)
This is a traditional type of feeding method that involves feeding a baby purée or smooth mashed food. This aims to teach the baby to swallow their food first and chew later. The idea of SLW is to focus on improving a baby’s feeding skills through spoon feeding.
Baby-led Weaning (BLW)
Some parents are more comfortable with baby led weaning practices. This feeding method involves skipping the smooth food or purée stage entirely and introducing a baby to finger foods exclusively. Babies then learn how to manage soft lumps of food and chew from the beginning.
Combining SLW and BLW
Many parents prefer to stick to either BLW or SLW feeding methods, but childcare professionals recommend offering developing babies a combination of finger foods and mashed foods from the beginning.
Mothers may notice that babies will often take a preference over one feeding method, but that is perfectly normal. The combination of feeding methods will still allow them to learn both skills (chewing and swallowing) at the same time.
Even though baby led weaning can be a little messy, there are various advantages to incorporating this method into feeding time. Experts believe that when babies are given a chance to choose their own food, they are far less likely to turn into fussy eaters.
However, whether parents choose baby led weaning or traditional feeding methods, it is always necessary to stay vigilant in case of choking. Consult your childcare professional for more information.