Baby led weaning is more popular nowadays and is a term that relates to allowing baby to feed themselves rather than being spoon fed by a parent. While lots of parents enjoy the experience of feeding their baby purees and mashed food with a spoon, others like to give their little one the opportunity to develop independence around feeding by only offering them foods that they can pick up and eat themselves without any parental involvement.
In traditional weaning, babies learn to swallow before they learn to chew as they are introduced at an early age to purees which just slip down. While traditional weaning is good for helping baby to discover new tastes and textures, when babies undergo baby led weaning, they learn to chew before swallowing which is a useful skill to develop before the introduction of lumpy foods. Many babies who have been traditionally weaned dislike the texture of lumpy foods and start to reject meals once they have to begin chewing their food. This is not usually a problem with infants who have been through baby led weaning.
When embarking on baby led weaning, you should forget the idea of traditional baby foods and instead concentrate on giving your little one easy to hold chunks of normal foods. Sticks are easier to hold than other shapes of food at first, but once your little one is used to feeding himself, you can start to introduce smaller foods like cooked peas to help develop their pincer grip and small motor skills.
Because baby led weaning is all about baby doing it for themselves, you need no spoons or bowls but be prepared for a lot of mess. Simply put the food down on the highchair table in front of your little one and let him dig in. You can start with simple foods like steamed carrots, sliced cucumbers or small soldiers of toast but then eventually move on to foods that the whole family is eating. Older babies can usually manage to help themselves to mashed potato or spaghetti even though it will probably make a mess. Placing a wipe clean cloth on the floor under the highchair is a definite bonus and lots of clothing protection for your baby is an absolute must.
Resist the temptation to put food into your baby's mouth as this discourages the independence that this activity is all about. If baby hates the food simply take it away and try something else next time. Also avoid giving baby too much food at one time, a couple of pieces is enough to prevent your little one from feeling overwhelmed.