Have you already thought about introducing solids to your baby? Do you know which way are you going to choose - spoon-fed weaning or baby-led weaning? Until recently, spoon-fed weaning was a logical choice for many parents, but, are you sure you know everything you need to know about it?
What Is a Spoon-Fed Weaning?
Spoon-fed weaning (SFW) is a classic way of introducing solids to your baby. As its name says - you offer food to your baby with a spoon. You start with smooth mashed foods or purees from around six months, and you slowly progress to thicker mashed foods with some soft lumps, until your baby is ready for minced and chopped food (this will probably be when she’s nine or ten months old).
What do You Need for Spoon-Fed Weaning?
Before you start introducing solids to your baby, you should talk about it with her pediatrician. It’s also a good idea that you buy a cookbook with recipes - that way you’ll always know what to prepare for your baby’s meal. To prepare your baby's food, you'll need some tools. Some parents use a good old fork, while others buy an electric baby-food maker. There are several versions of them, so you can choose according to your preferences. And, you’ll need a bib, a bowl and a spoon, of course. Choose BPA-free plastic, as well as an age-appropriate spoon (soft and shallow). You might also think about a floor protector - it'll make weaning less messy.
And What About Finger Foods?
Even though you’ve chosen the spoon-fed weaning, you still need to offer some finger foods to your baby. You can introduce this type of food at the beginning, or, you can wait for a couple of weeks (until your baby learns how to manage the food in her mouth).
Advantages of Spoon-Fed Weaning
Your baby will eat more food - It’s easier for your baby to be fed with mashed foods or purees, then to eat finger foods all by herself.
You’ll know how much your baby has eaten - With spoon-fed weaning, you’ll be sure that your baby eats proper portions and that she’s getting all the nutrients she needs.
Your baby will finish with her meal faster - Feeding a baby with a spoon allows you to finish with her feeding faster. But try to follow your baby’s pace - if she’s hungry, give her food as fast as she wants. But if she doesn’t seem that hungry, there’s no need to hurry - let her enjoy each mouthful before you proceed to the next one.
There’ll be less mess during a meal - You’re the one holding the spoon, so it’s your job to make sure that all food goes directly into your baby’s mouth and not on the floor.
Disadvantages of Spoon-Fed Weaning
It’ll be difficult for you to eat along with the baby or to include her in a family meal - Feeding a baby with a spoon takes time, so you’ll probably need to feed your baby first.
It requires more time to prepare everything - You’ll need to peel, cook, and mash your baby’s food. Of course, this only applies if you choose homemade over prepackaged baby food.
Your baby might dislike lumps - This is likely to happen if you stick to purees for too long.
Spoon-Fed Weaning Safety
Many parents choose to feed their babies with a spoon because they worry that their baby might choke with finger foods. It’s true that spoon-fed weaning is safer since you’re the one holding the spoon and controlling the amount of food your baby puts in her mouth, but remember that even if you choose to feed your baby with a spoon, you still need to offer her some finger foods, as well.
Before you start feeding your baby make sure that the food is the right temperature. This is particularly important if you heat your baby's food in the microwave since it heats unevenly (it can create 'hot spots'). The food you serve shouldn't be warmer than body temperature.
Don't offer the whole amount of food at once. If you do it, your baby's saliva will get in and make it suitable for bacteria to grow. The food that's left over should be refrigerated in an airtight container and used within the next two days. You can also use ice cube trays to freeze leftovers.