There are so many differing view points on when you should wean, how gradually you should wean, whether you should let your baby lead the way, or direct him/her with the spoon, or just a bit of both! There was very little “official” advice when I started weaning my baby 9 months ago. It was only in passing at a weigh-in that the health visitor said, “Why don’t you get booked onto a weaning class?” I didn’t even know they were available.
The class was basically all about Baby Led Weaning and the reasoning behind it and although it was very interesting it was also very negative about using a spoon to help feed your baby AT ALL. What about soup or cereal, I thought? Anyway, I took some of the advice then applied a bit of common sense… and then read a book which seemed quite sensible and evidence based (called “Weaning Made Easy” by Dr Rana Conway) and opted for the best of both worlds. Bit of baby led weaning for non-messy finger foods (toast, sweetcorn fritters, omelette, cucumber sticks were some of her favourites) and then the stuff she couldn’t handle I mushed up and spoon fed her so she wouldn’t go hungry or choke or smear it all over my walls, curtains, and carpets!
I think at the end of the day you’ve got to go with your parenting instinct which also takes into account how brave you are (it’s very very scary seeing your baby gag on chunks of food!). After my baby seemingly almost choked on a piece of pear I became a bit more cautious and skeptical of fully Baby Led Weaning although I fully agree with the idea of introducing your baby to handling foods and getting used to feeding themselves. I also agree that a baby shouldn’t be force fed, i.e. making them laugh then shovelling in food the minute they open their mouths. Learning to read their cues is an important and helpful part of Baby Led Weaning.
The number of teeth your baby has makes a big difference in how well they handle certain foods so common sense should play a big role in what you let your baby put in their mouth. Baby Led Weaning advocates may disagree but personally I’ve had no problems gradually introducing more and more independence at the dinner table… or at the highchair I should say! As her motor skills improved around 10 months she naturally started wanting to hold the spoon and feed herself. Now at 14 months she is much more confident at spoon feeding herself although she still needs some help otherwise she’ll dive into the pot of yoghurt or bowl of porridge with her hands as sometimes that’s just easier!!