Once again, parents are divided on an important parenting topic. The process of introducing solid food to your baby can be a daunting prospect to undertake. It's an emotive task that contains challenges indicative of both excitement and exhaustion. With modern parenting philosophies seemingly intent on wavering, it’s palpable how difficult it is for parents to commit to just one angle. The trending contention is spoon feeding versus baby-led weaning (or BLW)- and ultimately, which one is better.
Introducing solids to a baby is a monumental stage in their development. It's a wonderful opportunity to expose infants to an explosion of surprising flavors, magnificent aromas, and fascinating textures. It’s also a journey of discovery for both baby and parent. It has been said for a long time that what's experienced along the way will ultimately have lifelong effects. But according to a recent study, the difference it makes to your child’s eating habits is actually very small. With that being noted, there is undeniably merit in both feeding methods.
Spoon feeding has always been the preeminent method used to present babies with solids because you're offering them their first tastes of complementary foods via a spoon. The texture of the food gradually increases as the baby's able to manage them. Solids begin as a smooth thin puree' advance to mashed or minced; and then follow with chopped. After that the baby ultimately dives into finger foods. With puree, there's peace of mind that food will be consumed safely. It’s also not too messy, and parents will have more control over the foods offered and consumed.
With the parents in control of feeding, they can ensure that their babies receive adequate energy and nutrients for their development– an instinctive element of anxiety. Parents also savor the emotional bond they experience with baby while spoon feeding- being engaged, exchanging smiles, and sharing in the delectable novelty of it all.
Baby-led weaning, or BLW - a term which was coined back in 2003 by health visitor Gill Rapley- has gained significant acclamation with its developmental perspective. It's a spontaneous and flexible approach hat's based on the baby being offered solid finger foods to eat. This leaves the baby in charge of feeding themselves. The approach focuses on the independence of the baby putting food to their own mouth, and consuming both the quantity and variety that they choose.
Registered dietician and author of Feeding Baby, Clancy Cash Harrison, explains that BLW assists fine-tune motor development; as well as promoting eye-hand coordination, chewing skills, dexterity, and healthy eating habits. Furthermore, it offers babies an opportunity to explore the taste, texture, aroma, and color of a variety of foods.
Sarah Remmer- who's been proclaimed as "Canada’s Family and Child Nutritionist Expert"- believes that both feeding methods can be baby-led, especially if parents genuinely focus on their baby’s prompting, and not coax or force them to eat. This will fundamentally allow them to trust their inner cues when it comes to hunger and fullness.