Choosing the Best Feeding Method for Your Baby
Around 6 months of age, a typically developing baby will likely be ready for solids. It is also around this time that they begin to need more iron than your breast milk or formula has to offer. Once you’ve determined that your little one is ready to start trying solid foods, you have three main approaches that you can try and determine what is the best fit for you and your little one. They are: spoon feeding, baby led weaning and a combination of both.
Spoon feeding is a traditional method of introducing solid foods to babies. It involves feeding your baby purees or mashed foods with a spoon. The idea is to gradually transition your baby from a diet of breast milk or formula to solid foods. To begin spoon feeding, it's important to choose a time of day when your baby is alert and hungry. Start with a small amount of food on the spoon and gently offer it to your baby's mouth or give the spoon to your baby and allow them to navigate feeding themself. It may take some time for your baby to get used to the texture and taste of solid foods, so be patient and keep offering the food in small amounts. If your baby refuses a food one day, keep in mind it can take up to 20 times of trying one food before they like it!
Baby-led weaning is a feeding method that involves offering babies soft finger foods and allowing them to feed themselves from the beginning of their solid food journey, rather than spoon-feeding purees. The idea behind baby-led weaning is to let babies explore different textures, tastes, and shapes of food at their own pace, giving them the control over how much and what they eat. It also leads to less picky eaters as they grow.
Combination feeding, which involves using both spoon feeding and baby-led weaning, can be a great way to introduce your baby to solid foods and offer a variety of textures and tastes.
To start with a combination feeding approach, you can offer your baby soft finger foods alongside spoon-fed purees. For example, you can offer small pieces of ripe fruit or steamed vegetables that your baby can pick up and self-feed, while also spoon-feeding purees of mashed fruits or vegetables.
As your baby becomes more comfortable with solid foods, you can gradually increase the variety and complexity of the foods you offer. You may find that your baby prefers one method of feeding over the other, or that they enjoy a mix of both. The most important thing is to follow your baby's lead, offer a variety of healthy foods, and always supervise your baby during meal times.