What is baby-led weaning?

- Ali Maffucci knows a thing or two about food. She is a mom to an adorable 1-year-old named Luca, the author of three cookbooks, and creator of the kitchen appliance the Inspiralizer. Making nutritious-and delicious meals-is literally her day job. So when it came to starting her son on solids, she chose an approach called baby-led weaning. She said it was the best decision she has made as a parent.

Baby-led weaning is one of those repackaged terms; the kind of thing moms and dads have been doing since the beginning of time. And yet, the trend is still considered "new."

"Baby-led feeding progressively adds different types of foods in baby- and age-appropriate ways—cut into small pieces, soft foods are great to try," registered dietician Rachel Lustgarten said. "The baby is really in charge of how much, how fast, and if they're going to eat these foods at all."

That means no purées, no food packets, no late nights or early mornings making mush. And no games of airplane with the spoon.

"Baby-led weaning is thought to help nurture babies trying a wide variety of different foods, be more adventurous in trying foods because they're really in charge of how much they're eating," Lustgarten said.

Megan McNamee, a nutritionist in Arizona, has developed an infant-feeding course centered solely around baby-led weaning. In her five years of teaching the course, she has encountered a few big misconceptions, such as that babies need teeth to eat and that baby-led weaning is unsafe.

"It does not increase the risk of choking and actually helps them safely chew and swallow," McNamee said, citing current data on baby-led weaning.

As a matter of fact, little data support the misconception of choking. Choking in baby-led babies and those who consumed purées had little discernable difference, according to information from the NIH.

This is the next hot topic you'll hear at your mom group and all over your Instagram feed. And soon, that may include Ali's new cookbook, in conjunction with Feeding Littles, all about baby led weaning.

As with all things infant and child related, it is best to check with your pediatrician before embarking on any sort of feeding regiment to ensure that's what best for your child.

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