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Getting started with solid foods: traditional and child-led weaning

Your little-one may be developmentally ready to start complementary feeding after six months of age, when she is able to hold her head up and sit in a high chair. Whatever feeding approach you take, whether traditional, child-led, or a mixture of the two, remember the principles of responsive feeding.

3 mins
to read Aug 11, 2021

Getting started: traditional and weaning

 

Getting started: traditional and weaning

 

What does a feeding expert say?

If you’re following the traditional method of starting with smooth purees, your little one may soon be able to manage thicker textures and mashed foods. Sarah Smith-Simpson PhD, Principal Scientist and Feeding Expert at Nestle nutrition in Michigan suggests that as your little one masters the mouth skills of purees, she can move on to thicker textures. “She can then eat small, soft, cooked vegetables and mashed fruit when developmentally ready.”

Child-led weaning may allow your little one to have more independence with eating at an early age. “Some studies suggest that it is also associated with better appetite regulation and less fussy eating in toddlers,” says Dr. Smith-Simpson.

 

What is your little one learning?

Introducing your little one to a variety of healthy foods is a gradual process. As with learning anything new, the more practice she gets at trying new foods, the better. Whether you are offering purees, finger foods, or a combination of the two, your little one is learning new skills. With every bite she is:

  •  accepting new tastes and textures
  • independently choosing, from the healthy foods offered, what she wants to eat and how much, so she follows her own hunger and fullness cues
  • eating in a social setting—being offered the same foods as the rest of the family, either as purees, mashed, or in bite-size pieces
  • learning to eat from a spoon (if being offered purees)
  • developing her pincer grip—picking up objects using her index finger and thumb (if being offered finger foods)

 

How can you help?

Starting to offer your little one her first solid foods, whether you choose the traditional method or little-oen led weaning, is an exciting time, and an important milestone in your little one’s development. There are small steps you can take to make this process as simple as possible, promoting healthy eating for your little one now and in the future:

  • recognize the signs and respond to your little one when she shows she’s hungry or full
  • create a warm and nurturing environment for feeding times
  • offer a variety of foods and textures
  • offer fruits and vegetables at as many mealtimes and snack times as possible
  • make sure every mouthful is full of nutrients, especially important vitamins and minerals
  • continue to breastfeed—breast milk will still provide energy and nutrients for your little one

 

Sources

  • Alvisi P, Brusa S, Alboresi S et al. Ital J Pediatr 2015; 41(36) doi: 10.1186/s13052-015-0143-5.
  • Brown A, Lee MD. Early influences on child satiety-responsiveness: the role of weaning style. Pediatr Obes 2015; 10(1):57-66.
  • Nicklaus S, Demonteil L, Tournier C. Elsevier, 2015: 187-222.
  • Taylor RW, Williams SM, Fangupo LJ et al. JAMA Pediatr 2017; 171(9):838-46.doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.1284.
  • Townsend E, Pitchford NJ. BMJ Open 2012; 2(1):e000298.

 

Last revised: December, 2017M