Baby-led weaning is all about the processes involved in introducing your baby to solid foods. This is a process that is firstly combined with continued breastfeeding or the use of baby formula. It leads to finally fully weaning your baby off baby food.
Therefore, your primary objective is to make the process as baby-friendly as possible. You want your baby to have fun while exploring this new facet of their development. You also want to ensure that your baby is ready to take this new step forward.
However, there are signs you need to look for to ensure that your baby is ready for baby-led weaning so you can begin the exciting journey forward.
Let’s get started.
10 Signs Your Baby is Ready for Baby-led Weaning
Development of pincer grasp
All babies start grasping by using their palms. They splay their fingers over the item and grasp with their palms. This is called the Palmer grasp. Although this may help them get by as they play with their toys, they need to develop a new skill to be able to wean. This is known as the pincer grasps. It involves exploring the opposition nature of the fingers and trying the grasp things between the forefinger and the thumb. The pincer grasp is important because:
- It makes for a better grasp,
- It ensures that the baby is picking up food properly,
- Pincer grasp help to ensure that the baby doesn’t stuff his mouth with too much food and thus prevent choking,
- The pincer grasp is an invaluable skill that will come in handy when the baby learns how to write.
Ability to sit up without support
When babies are younger; like in their first few months, the parents or caregiver keeps the baby steady while feeding. They can sit upright on your arms after the first few months with your help. However, for babies who are to be weaned, they need to be able to sit and hold themselves straight. The help you have given to the development of the baby till this time is really instrumental in how well or soon they can sit on their own.
Use pillows to prop your baby when he is learning to sit. Whenever he bends over, help him to sit straight. Always ensure that the baby is sitting upright at all times. This serves as a useful practice for the baby and helps the baby become accustomed to sitting upright. It also helps to reduce the risk of choking.
Interest in your Food
When your baby reaches out to your food and trying to dip his hand into it or grab it, it indicates that the baby is interested in trying it out. And while children are just naturally curious and with wide-eyed enthusiasm are very open to trying new things, weaning and introducing your baby to solid food should start at six months. Babies of four months often also show this interest, but it is better to allow the baby to reach six months to fully develop their digestive system.
Loss of tongue reflex
You know that cute, funny look on your baby’s face when they realize that you’ve slipped their medications in their mouth while they were laughing? Babies also tend to spit out whatever is put in their mouth. This is called the tongue-thrust reflex. It makes the baby use his tongue to push out food. They do that because to them, anything outside of breast milk and baby food tastes wrong.
Therefore, having that reflex while being fed food for the purpose of weaning would not work well for you and your baby if he keeps spitting it out. With that said, watch your baby closely and find out if he has lost the reflex. This indicates that the baby is ready.
Holding the head steady
When your baby has lost that bouncy head reflex of his early life, it is an indication that your baby is ready to be weaned. Still, having that reflex will surely increase the risk of choking and would frustrate the baby as he struggles to find the mouth accurately.
To learn how to feed oneself is a huge deal. The baby learns to use parts of the body together in harmony. You want your baby to be able to do simple things like clapping his hands together without missing the mark and have reduced fidgeting. The baby should be able to sit still enough to be able to eat.
These skills are what we use every day; when we wake up in the morning and jump off the bed, when we button our shirt or tie our shoelaces or tie a tie. This is because we learned the position of things as we grew older; we know that the floor is right underneath us so we don’t fear jumping down when we wake up. Also, the baby needs to be able to find his mouth and put food into it. Soon as your baby continues to learn, he will need this skill in being able to find the opposing spaces for the buttons.
It’s very common to see your baby just gnawing away at nothing, particularly when he teethes. This shows that if you were to put something chewy in the baby’s mouth, he will be able to gnaw and to chew on it.
One of the best ways to really know that your baby is ready for baby-led weaning is if you introduce some food to the baby to see his reaction to it. You could try by giving the baby something like a slice of pineapple, orange or a tangerine. This allows you to see what your baby really enjoys and what you should start with when the weaning process starts.
This may sound chaotic, but you have to let the baby have free rein when he shows an interest in your food. Obviously, it will get messy because your baby is trying to learn something new. However, it helps you see practically whether or not your baby is ready.
Above are signs your baby is ready for baby-led weaning. You will be able to tell when your baby is ready. This will help you to know when it’s time to shop for baby healthy solid meals or semi-solid condiments. So, the question is, do you notice these signs in your baby? The answer will show you when to start.