When Jenny McGruther’s son started to show an interest in eating solids at 6 months, the mom from Crested Butte, Colorado, got busy making healthy purees — but her hard work didn’t pay off. “He didn’t like me putting a spoon in his mouth and would spit the food out. It was frustrating,” she says. Then she read about another way to introduce solids, called baby-led weaning, that skips the spoon: You just offer your baby soft cut-up fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and stewed meat and let him feed himself. This turned out to be McGruther’s ticket to a happier mealtime: “It was great to see my son explore. He’d reach over and grab something, like a soft pear, and gnaw on it.” If you’re curious about this feeding method, read on for more information and tips to get started.
In With The Old
Baby-led weaning may seem radical, but it’s actually a centuries-old practice in many cultures. “Parents would wait to start solids until their baby began picking food off their plate,” says Jennifer Salib Huber, R.D., N.D., a dietitian and naturopathic doctor at Pillars of Health, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The method was repopularized by British public-health nurse Gill Rapley about ten years ago, and has caught on around the world, in homes, playgroups, and research labs.