Purees or baby led weaning - which should you do?
There are two different ways of weaning - spoon feeding purees or baby led weaning (BLW). We help you choose the best method for you and your baby and reveal how many mums are doing a third way...
What's the difference between the two ways of weaning ?
- Purees or spoon led weaning – you spoon feed your baby smooth purees, progressing to mashed/chopped textures over the next couple of months and introducing finger foods around 7-8 months
- Baby led weaning (BLW) – the philosophy behind BLW is to let your baby take the lead (yes, the hint is in the name) and explore solid food at your baby's own pace - generally the food your family is eating. You also start straight away with soft solid food, and miss out purees
There is a third way...
The Mix Method - which is spoon-led weaning with the introduction of finger foods right from the beginning. While many mums describe this as a mix of purees and BLW, it isn't actually baby led weaning. True BLW has no specially prepared meals for your baby - your baby simply eats suitable foods from the meal you're eating.
Which weaning method do most mums use?
We asked 500 mums who told us...
- 60% use spoon-led purees
- 9% use just baby-led weaning
- 31% use a mix of purees and finger foods straight away, and the evidence suggests that the Mix Method is becoming more and more popular
Advantages of doing purees/spoon led feeding...
- It may be easier to introduce iron-rich foods (such as meat, green leafy vegetables) at 6 months, which can be difficult for 6 month babies to chew
- If, and only if, your baby is ready to start weaning before 6 months, you could introduce some purees (your baby shouldn’t start BLW until 6 months)
- It's easier for parents who worry about gagging and choking
- It's a little less messy than BLW, so more suited to feeding on the go
Advantages of doing baby led weaning...
- You don’t need to make mountains of purees – you give your baby suitable bits of family meals
- You need to wait until your baby is 6 months before starting BLW
- It encourages shared and social eating - your baby joins in family meals from the beginning
- It can avoid difficult transition from purees to lumps – babies get used to chewing from the start
- Some research suggests BLW may reduce fussy eating and later obesity
Advantages of doing the Mix Method...
- It can be easier to give your baby iron-rich foods from 6 months
- It encourages your baby to use a spoon to self-feed, developing onto cutlery use
- Your baby can discover new tastes and textures by playing with finger food while you’re spoon feeding
Can the Mix Method really work?
According to two experts from both sides of the weaning debate, it seems the answer is yes - if it works for your baby
“While some parents feel they want to spoon feed their babies and others are strongly in favour of baby led weaning, many choose to combine both and find that it suits them very well. The key to any type of weaning is to go at your baby’s pace, and give her the opportunity to explore lots of different tastes and textures. Combining purees and finger foods is, for many families, a good compromise," says Adele Stevenson, baby led weaning workshop leader.
“The official advice is to give your baby well-mashed or puréed foods at the beginning of weaning, as well as finger food. The Department of Health, the European Union and the World Health Organisation all recommend this. Dietitians also tend to think it's important to give your baby a variety of textures, so sloppy foods as well as finger foods," adds Dawn Kelly, Health Visitor.
What mums say about purees or baby led weaning
Twinkletoes: "You can definitely do a bit of both. What I do is cook up some veggies or whatever for a puree, but then before I blend them I take a couple of bits out (a piece of broccoli or a couple of carrot sticks) and leave them whole.
"Just put them on her highchair tray while you feed her and let her play with them and eat them if she wants.
"It's what I did with my son and he's usually a good eater although he's teething at the moment so doesn't want to eat much :/"
MummyR2B: "We have done BLW in the true sense but she will take yogurts etc off a spoon if I'm trying to keep her clean but she prefers to 'drink' them herself and Ella's pouches she feeds herself straight from the pouch.
"I didn't want her to not understand cutlery but she hates it anyway so spoons really are a waste of time, her face literally drops at the sight of it.
"Also felt from BFing on demand to BLW was a natural progression, I did read the book and love all the theory behind it, she has led me as Gill says she should
"And wouldn't take the puree I tried to offer by spoon and only likes to feed herself what she wants from what I give her.
"It was more my anxiety (and pressure from family and society) offering puree then her needing or wanting it."
Nicola: "I think you have to be guided by what your baby wants, I wanted to do a mixture of both but so far am just doing purees as my LO will not hold any food herself.
"I have a friend who wanted to do puree, but her daughter will not take anything from the spoon instead she grabs the spoon and sucks it.
"So my friend had to go down the BLW route which she was nervous about but has so far been going well.
"BLW is not advised for babies under 6 months old so if you do want to start weaning early purees will be best."
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