Baby-Led or Spoon Feeding: Does it really matter?

Weaning methods pretty much fall into two camps, spoon-feeding purées and baby-led weaning and as with many parenting choices supporters of each can be somewhat zealous in their approach. I heard a radio interview with Annabel Karmel, a supporter of the spoon-feeding method, something which I’m sure has nothing to do with the fact that she makes her living by selling books and equipment to go along with this, where she pretty much suggested that by not following her preferred method your child was likely to choke and die. Conversely many Baby-Led Weaning parents that I’ve met or heard have come across as being supremely condescending and smug about what their child eats and would have you believe that BLW is the only way to wean a baby and will result in a child who happily eats everything you put in front of them.

Since I have started weaning Nano Mck I have come to the conclusion that the method you choose to wean is not really that important and that the success is more likely down to the temperament of your child and how they feel about food.

We have chosen to use BLW with both of our children, as it just seemed to suit us better. I like the fact that it means I can eat at the same time and it seemed to me a more relaxed and easier way to go about things, but the experience of weaning both my boys couldn’t be more different.

From early on Mini Mck would reject a lot of foods and mealtimes could be very frustrating and the length of time he would be prepared to sit in the highchair without trying to escape was short. This can still be the case, although we have seen an improvement recently. He really is a child that is not overly interested in food. He is far too busy and would prefer to snack and run rather than eat a large meal. Baby-led weaning doesn’t always result in a non-fussy, food confident child and it can be as infuriating as any other method.

Obviously I can only really compare the early days as Nano Mck is still just exploring food and understanding what it is for, but the differences are so striking that it has been like a lightbulb going on in my head. Suddenly I don’t question how weaned or whether I made mistakes in my attitude to Mini Mck and food. It is about the child not the method.

Nano is yet to reject any food that I’ve presented him with and has enjoyed a wide range of flavours and textures. He will happily sit in the highchair and patiently munch his way through dinner. In fact, I have started to seat him before the rest of us join him, otherwise one of us is left supervising him long after our meal is finished. He will eat at any time of day and positively lurches forward whenever he sees food being prepared for him. He seems to hold on to the food for much longer than Mini did, happy to persevere with whatever he has been given.

Pizza, Eggy Bread & Roast Potatoes

I still think that some children suit different methods, but I do believe that it is for the parent to work out what that method is. Even though we have had difficult meal times with Mini Mck I don’t regret my choice of weaning method, as I think we would have had the same issues had we gone down the spoon-feeding route. Ultimately both schools of thought get your child the nutrition they need and in my opinion neither are a guarantee that you won’t have some challenges when it comes to food, so just choose what feels right for you or more importantly what feels right for your baby. After all you do know them better than anyone.

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6 thoughts on “Baby-Led or Spoon Feeding: Does it really matter?

  1. I really agree with your comments here, all of my children are good eaters and have all learnt how to eat in different ways. My youngest is just 7 months and we are really doing a mixture of the two, it's mostly baby led but at times his frustrations and hunger mean that feeding him some 'mush' is better all round!

  2. Oh I love this! We also did blw, and I'm a big fan, but I hate telling people as they always get this look in their eyes like I'm about to start a lecture! My main priority was doing whatever would suit my baby and get him interested in food. And that is def not the same for every baby! Great post.

  3. Well this post has been going round and round in my head for weeks but I have been unable to get it out on the page. You have summed up exactly what I would have said. As you know I have been doing a mixture with Kate and it is working really well for us. The funny thing is that of the two of them Piran was the more reluctant eater so maybe puree would have been better for him at the beginning but he was stubborn and wouldn't eat off a spoon.Yep, like you said, it is so much more about the child!

  4. I've spent hours agonising over weaning choices, and I definitely get frustrated by some of the attitudes out there. I really agree that how you choose to wean your child is a personal choice. Only you know what kind of child you have, and how your mealtimes etc function. I have no problem with whatever choice others make, and it makes me incredibly angry to see people judging others. The twins were both spoon-fed (with a bit of finger food thrown in for good measure!), but they have always had very different attitudes towards food. Fonz is similar to Mini Mck – eat and run. But Ez will sit quietly and slowly make her way through most things you put in front of her. So it proves your point – your child will do whatever he/she wants to do!

  5. Baby led weaning was a real new thing when I weaned Maxi and we went down the road of puree and finger food and it was fine. With Mini we just mushed a lot of what we all had and gave him finger food. I agree that a lot depends on the nature of your child. Both my boys are good eaters, but I do not put that down to hoe they were weened, more to the fact that we eat together and I only cook one thing

  6. Excellent point. I did spoons for my first and mostly baby led weaning for my second, and this was mainly because the first refused to chew and the second refused to slurp. Both eat well. My stars, blw is messy though!

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