Baby led weaning is a great way of starting solids for your baby. It’s quick, easy and cheap. Your baby is in control of what they eat as they put food in their own mouths rather than being spoon fed by you. Your baby eats what you eat, which is fantastic for holidays and travelling with your baby as you don’t need to worry about buying heaps of ready made baby food, or making batches yourself to take with you.
If you haven’t heard of it before, and want to find out more about why it could be the best option for you then keep reading! I’m doing baby led weaning for the second time, after it was a great success with my first, and so far we’re all loving it, so I hope you will too!
What is Baby Led Weaning?
The whole idea with baby led weaning is that your baby decides what to eat and feeds themself. Because of this they need to be 6 months old, able to sit unaided, and able to bring things to their mouth before you start. Don’t worry if you have already started purees, you can change to baby led weaning at any stage of the weaning journey. Many parents do a mix of both, including me. You never know when that food pouch might come in handy, especially when out and about with a young baby.
Begin by offering vegetables and fruit cut into sticks, about 5cm long. They need to be long enough for your baby to hold it in their hand and eat the bit poking out. As a guideline the food needs to be soft enough to squish in your fingers, so baby can squish it with their gums.
I won’t lie. It’s messy. A lot of food ends up all over your baby and on the floor. Luckily you can buy great bibs that catch dropped food. They are plastic so easy to clean, dry, and roll up for next time, which is super convenient when on the go.
After a few weeks/depending on how much baby is eating and how you feel, it’s time to start introducing other food groups, such as dairy and carbs. Cheese sticks, scrambled eggs and toast soldiers are easy first foods. At 8 months my babies were both eating mostly the same foods as us, like spaghetti bolognase and even curry! Just hold off on the spice for now. In fact, I think the only things they can’t have or struggle with are things that require teeth, like salads, raw vegetables, and hard crackers.
I was lucky enough to be recommended Natalies’s advice and expertise on baby led weaning. She gives both advice on the process and delicious meal ideas suitable for the whole family. There’s plenty of variety and she even has specialised apps, such as 15minute meals, and even one for vegetarians. Find her on facebook here for her regular updates. I love her cookbook and several of her recipes have become new staples, like her pinwheels for lunch. I also have her slow cook app, which was brilliant for gettingdinner ready during morning nap time!
Now you know what it is, here’s why you should try baby led weaning while travelling.
Doing baby led weaning is a huge time saver. This is doubly important when you’re traveling. It’s already time consuming, and can be limiting, traveling with babies and toddlers so you don’t want any more demands on your time than necessary. There’s hardly any extra prep so it’s great if you’re cooking, and easy for being out and about too!
You don’t need to buy special food for your baby. Simple things like fruit are usually readily available and easy to pack. They are healthy and nutritious. Baby can have some of whatever you are eating most of the time, so you don’t need to carry heaps of extra food either. Of course, you need to be prepared to give up a few mouthfuls of your own meal. But that means you don’t need to feel guilty about that ice cream, or cocktail later!
Doing baby led weaning while travelling means you don’t have to miss out on eating out. Just ask for an empty plate and serve them some of your food. Most places will be happy for you to supplement your baby’s meal if you wish, for example with some fruit you’ve packed. It’s also good for them to see what you’re table manners are, as they will learn by copying you.
The only downside of eating out is the mess. I always pick up the worst of the mess before leaving, and wipe down the high chair after. I also choose ‘cleaner’ foods such as a toastie or pasta, rather than a ‘messy’ food with lots of sauce. Personally I feel it’s more polite to help tidy up, although I’ve also been to cafes where they’ve told me not to worry about the mess and they’ve cleaned it all. They’re secondly ones to go back to! I believe cleaning up makes it easier to go back to your favourite restaurant or cafe again, especially if they’re not the most family friendly. I also wipe down the highway chair before use too, so I know it’s clean before we start.
Easy to Find Food When Out And About
It’s easy to be more fluid and spontaneous with your plans when you don’t need to worry about carrying much food for your baby with you, especially perishables in a hot climate. There are shops in every town so you should always be able to find something for your baby eat, which is great when that tour gets back late or you forgot to pack snacks. Fruit is cheap, easy and refreshing everywhere sells biscuits or crackers, you will soon discover what your baby likes and can choose accordingly.
Learn Manners and Socialise
Your baby will love eating with you during baby led weaning. It’s great for them to learn the social side of eating together from day one. I think it helps brings families together when you eat together, and personally I love that we always sit down to meals together. How about you?
Your baby will watch how you eat, so as they get older they will learn how to use a spoon, fork and finally knife from watching and copying you. They will also eventually learn table manners from you, so it’s great for (hopefully) raising children who know how to dine socially with others and behave appropriately.
Baby led weaning is a great way to start solids with your baby, especially as it’s so simple and easy. I have really enjoyed it and found it relatively easy with both my sons, who are now 2 and 8 months. It’s been fantastic everytime we’ve been away on holiday, and even when we flew long haul from the UK to New Zealand when we moved countries. I hope you find it as easy and rewarding for weaning your children, especially when you’re out and about. Whether for just a family day out or for a longer holiday or travels.
Let me know your top tip if you’ve tried it already. If you are keen to do it, please share this post for others who might also be interested! Thanks!