Reviewed by Kat Forbes
While I was pregnant I read and read and read anything I could get my hands on regarding parenting. But on the day my daughter was born, I knew that books couldn’t tell me how to parent her, I had to just do what felt right. What I love about ‘Baby-led Weaning’ by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett is that rather than telling you what to do, or setting out strict methods and instructions, it supports you to do what feels right. To trust that you and your baby will find the best way to wean for you.
What baby-led weaning encourages is to dispense with purees and mashes, and to start straight off with finger food. If you wait until 6 months (as recommended by the Ministry of Health, Plunket and the WHO) your baby should be ready for this, and if they’re not then it’s no drama to just leave solids until they are ready. The authors remind us that babies continue to get most of their nutrition from breast milk or formula until well after 6 months, and probably even the first year, so it’s ok to just relax and let them explore and play with their food rather than anxiously shovelling it into them.
The book goes into a lot more details about the benefits and reasons why you would take this approach, but something that really resonated with me was that demand-fed babies (breastfed babies especially, but formula-fed babies too) are largely in control of when they eat, how much to eat, and knowing when they are full. As older children and adults, we want our kids to be healthy eaters, to eat when they are hungry, and to know when they are full. It makes sense for this to be one continuous process rather than being interrupted in the middle by a period where babies lose control of what and when they eat.
I highly recommend this book, and while I am yet to embark on solids with my own child I have a number of friends who are using this approach successfully, and I look forward to leaving the blender in the cupboard!