Trusting a Baby to Know How to Eat, by Julia Scirrotto

Babies Eating Collage

“You need a class to tell you how to feed your baby?” my dad laughed down the line to London, where I live. I was en route to a workshop on introducing my six-month-old daughter to solid food and was hoping to find clarity on which approach to use: traditional purées or this thing called “baby-led weaning” I’d heard English moms chatting about. Some swore by it, but others derided it as just another silly offshoot of bohemian urban parenting. It was like breast versus bottle 2.0, and I wanted to know more.

Search American parenting sites for “baby-led weaning” and most of what you’ll find is advice on ending breastfeeding when the child chooses. But here in Britain, the term commonly means letting babies feed themselves from their very first mouthful of solid food at six months. No runny rice cereal, no applesauce, no airplane spoon games. Instead they start exclusively on easy-to-grab finger foods like steamed carrot sticks, hunks of banana, and even skinless chicken drumsticks, then progress at their own pace to more complex dishes. They share in family mealtimes and in the process, the theory goes, become more adventurous eaters comfortable with a variety of tastes and textures while acquiring a natural feel for portion control. It’s a method some American mothers use as well, but here, it’s a trend considered worthy of fierce debate.

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