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Purees, Baby Led Or 50/50? Choose Your Weaning Weapon

It seems only a moment ago you were showing friends and family a scan picture, but the months have flown by and you now have a baby with a growing appetite and a personality of his own!

It's time to move on from just milk, the signs are all there, but now instead of thinking about bottle or breast, you will have to think about which kind of food to go with: puree, baby-led weaning or 50/50 – a mixture of the two.

Puree all the way?

Advocates of purées for babies recommend that mums start with very smoothly blended food, usually sweet cooked vegetables like carrots. These are often mixed with a little formula or breast milk to make them easier to eat. Over time, the texture slowly changes to more lumpy, mashed food, and eventually, ordinary foods. 

Baby-led dining

Followers of baby-led weaning suggest instead that mums allow their infants to feed themselves with finger foods. Babies being weaned using this scheme are given much larger pieces of food to pick up.

Maybe a cooked broccoli floret, or a block of cooked vegetable that the baby can grip in his fist. The idea is that the baby brings everything he eats to his own mouth independently. There are no spoons, and no help from you!

Followers of baby-led weaning suggest allowing your little one to feed himself with finger foods

Which is best for you?

If your baby has any special needs or was born early, then baby-led weaning may not be suitable for him. If there are allergies in the family, speak to your health visitor or GP for advice before you begin weaning onto solid food.

Also, if you are weaning before six months your baby is less likely to have the skills needed to feed himself.

Deciding factors

Otherwise, there are a few things to consider when deciding how to proceed.  All ways of feeding offer different benefits.

Feeding purées allows you to batch cook meals for your baby - you can freeze them in ice cube trays and defrost as you need them. This will be useful as a newly weaned baby will only eat very small amounts to begin with. When you spoon feed your baby you may feel that you can see what he is eating at every meal and know he isn't going hungry. Baby-led weaning is much messier and a lot of food gets wasted.

Baby-led weaning, on the other hand, encourages independence, and allows your baby to practise using his hand-eye coordination. He will be able to control the amount he eats himself, taking only what he needs. He may be able to eat normal food with the rest of the family earlier than a baby who eats puréed food only to begin with.

The final option is to combine offering purées with finger foods from six months. This is what the NHS advises, and it allows you to take what you like best from both the above approaches.

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