The Baby Led Approach To Solids – Why It Makes Sense

I can’t believe the last article I wrote about when to start solids was when my 3yo was starting! How time flies!

My precious daughter is 8 months old today and has only just started eating solid foods. I know. It seems crazy when some 4 month olds are scoffing down three meals a day. Not my girl.

I started my other three children on solids at almost 6 months to the day as this was the recommendation. I battled with them for months as they screamed every time I came near them with a spoon.

In hindsight, it wasn’t just that they didn’t want it – they didn’t need it. My babies just weren’t ready for solid food at 6, 7 or even 8 months. They were happy, growing and thriving on breast milk alone.

My first child eating finger foods at 11 months

The current recommendations suggest starting solids no earlier than 4 months and no later than 6 months (ASCIA). The Australian breastfeeding association has published an article that details some of the confusion about when to start solids which is helpful when making this decision.

The concern I have with the current recommendation is this:

This is from the Heinz website.

Babies are born with their own “iron store” which lasts about 6 months. At around 6 months they need iron-enriched foods and other nutrients which breast milk or formula alone can no longer provide. The recommended age of starting solids is around 6 months but not before 4 months.

Signs of readiness

  • Baby has good head and neck control
  • Watches you eat and reaches for food
  • Leans forward and opens mouth when food approaches
  • Milk feeds alone are no longer satisfying

Firstly, breastfed babies don’t need additonal iron as breastmilk contains iron and lactoferrin and it is easily absorbed.

Secondly at around 6 months a baby will start to engage more with the world around them. Babies will watch everything you do intently not just when you’re eating. Babies will also reach for well, anything and put it in their mouth. This is a normal part of child development and how they learn about the world. It is not necessarily signs of food readiness.

Starting Solids in her own good time……

baby led weaning

My daughter starting solids at 8 months

So, this time I decided to relax. We got to 7 months and she was still growing and thriving. She wasn’t sleeping at night but she never has and I knew from experience that starting solids never helped sleep anyway.

Once she started trying desperately to escape from my lap in search of food I decided to try introducing solids – the baby led way.

The baby led approach to solids is about skipping the purees and offering finger food only when the baby is developmentally ready and often this is much later as late as 8-9 months.

I started putting some food on her highchair. Steamed veges at dinner, fruit or some rice crackers. Simple.

It’s easy.

Baby led solids means less fuss and bother than purees.

It also means you can skip the over-priced baby food from stores. Something tells me Heinz won’t be recommending baby led solids any time soon! ;)

The bonus is she  gets to regulate her own appetite by stopping when she’s full. I trust that her body knows when it’s had all it needs and that she will know to avoid foods that don’t agree with her. So far though she eats everything I offer her. If only my 3 year old would do the same!

For more info on baby led solids I suggest this ebook.

I loved this resource and found it really helpful. I do recieve a small incentive for copies sold.  But rest assured I wouldn’t recommend if I didn’t think it was awesome!

So, what do you think?

How did you know when your bub was ready for solids?

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