Baby-led weaning is the process of allowing a baby to feed themselves during as they transition away from the bottle. Not only can it make the transition simpler for parents—less fussing over unwanted foods and less guesswork on when the baby is full— but it can also offer a whole host of other benefits. Baby-led weaning helps refine fine motor skills, improves jaw development, and raises the quality of available food choices for everyone at the table.
Although it might sound counter-intuitive to allow a baby to dictate what they want to eat and when it actually makes a lot of sense developmentally. “It’s all based on how babies naturally develop,” says Tracey Murkett, co-author of Baby-Led Weaning. “It’s their instinct to explore food.”
It works like this: parents make healthy food available, and the baby chooses what to eat and when. If they don’t want to eat anything at all, they don’t eat anything at all. If they find something they like, they eat until they are full. “It’s about allowing them to eat to their appetite,” offers Murkett. “Their milk feeds continue, and because you’re not making them eat more than they need, they have a more gradual transition” to solid foods.
One of the benefits of baby-led weaning is that it makes for a more relaxed mealtime for everyone involved. “You avoid all those mealtime battles because the baby or toddler isn’t under any pressure to eat a certain amount,” Murkett explains. “They just get on with it, you’re not persuading them to eat more of a certain thing, so there’s nothing to battle over.”
Tips for Baby-Led Weaning