Finding it difficult to choose between spoon-led weaning and baby-led weaning? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! The combination weaning approach might just be your answer.
If your child is not gaining weight as expected during their baby-led weaning journey, supplementing with some spoon-led weaning can help ensure that they get important nutrients and iron-rich foods while biting and chewing on solid foods.
Here’s what a practical mixed feeding approach might look like: Imagine you’re serving your baby rice and dal.
Prepare rice and dal and set your baby up in a high chair with a bib with sleeves
Place the prepared food in a bowl in front of the baby.
Let your baby explore the food and pick it up with their hands, while also offering a spoonful of dal on a spoon for them to hold and try.
Pros of Combination Feeding
1. Helps ensure your baby is getting essential nutrients like iron and zinc:
Flexibility in your feeding approach helps to ensure that your baby is getting lots of good nutrition. As your baby reaches the 6-month mark, their iron reserves begin to deplete. To ensure their nutritional needs are met, it’s important to introduce a variety of complementary foods that are rich in iron.
2. Gives you and your baby flexibility and options in feeding:
In baby-led weaning, babies are encouraged to self-feed finger foods, allowing them to explore different flavors and textures.
Finger foods that can be offered include soft, steamed foods, which they can eat easily with their hands. The main principle behind baby-led weaning is to promote self-feeding and independence, as the baby is in control of how much and what they eat.
3. Lets your baby practice self-feeding alongside being fed with a spoon:
This can help improve their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, and also gives them a sense of independence.
4. Strikes a balance between messy and clean feeding:
Between spoon-feeding and self-feeding, your baby can explore new foods and textures while minimizing mess.
5. Ensures more food gets into your baby’s tummy as they self-eat and are spoon-fed:
This can help ensure that your baby is getting the nutrition they need to grow and develop.
6. Enables introduction of allergens at the right time:
Some foods are tricky to offer as finger foods and some are tricky to offer as purees. Combining finger foods and purees or mashed foods means that you are able to expose your baby to a wide range of food textures and potential allergens in a timely manner.
Exposes your baby to a wider variety of foods, textures, and flavors:
This can help them develop a more adventurous palate and reduce picky eating tendencies.
Before we move onto the steps of this approach, we want to remind you that all babies develop their own instinct when it comes to weaning and feeding. You may even observe their cues to help them build good eating habits.
Ready to Try Combination Weaning? Here’s a Step-by-Step Guide
1. Position Your Baby Well
Ensure your baby is sitting in a comfortable position during feeding time. Place them upright on your lap, in a high chair/booster seat, or on a flat surface with a soft blanket.
Their hands and arms should be free.
Don’t let your baby lie down or recline during mealtimes. It’s a common practice in Indian homes to make the baby lie down on their mother’s stretched out legs. If your baby is horizontal, they’re at a higher risk for choking!
Place a messy mat on your lap, table, or floor to make cleaning up afterward easier. Babies love to explore and may throw food around!
2. Start Feeding
You can feed them mashed food along with finger foods. Here are 2 ways to go about it:
Place the finger foods on the tray in front of your baby or show/indicate to the food so your baby notices it. Let them reach out for the food. Let them put the food in their mouth.
You can scoop up the food with a spoon but place it at a distance from the baby’s mouth, about 6 inches Wait for the baby to open their mouth.
Place the food straight into their mouth. Then pull out the spoon.
3. When To Stop Feeding
Let your baby decide how much they want to eat. When they start playing with their food, turning their face away, or throwing it away, it’s a sign that they’re full and it’s time to take them out of the high chair and clean up any mess.
If your baby isn’t interested in the food you’re holding out, let them smell the food for now and try again another time.
Don’t worry too much about the quantity they consume. It’s natural for babies to eat less food at this age.
Don’t hurry your baby to finish the meal or force them to eat! Be patient and let them take their time to eat at their own pace.