Starting With Purees Vs. Baby-Led Feeding

Starting With Purees Vs. Baby-Led Feeding

Struggling to decide how to introduce solids to your baby? Whether you start with baby-led feeding or purees, your little one will be entering a new world of solid foods, with new tastes, textures, colours and smells. Here’s a quick rundown on these two popular methods, the pros and cons of each, and how to transition between methods. 

Starting With Purees

Purees have been the historical go to for parents. Many babies start with smooth single-ingredient purees and advance in texture until they are eating table food by 10 months. Caregivers typically start with spoon-feeding purees until babies are able to grasp spoons themselves. 

Pros:

  • It's easier to track how much your baby has eaten.
  • There's less mess since caregivers control the spoon-feeding and less food waste from spills and throwing.
  • Other family members and caregivers may be more comfortable with feeding babies purees. 

Cons:

  • Babies don’t develop motor skills associated with self-feeding at the start. 
  • Babies usually eat outside of family meals since caregivers’ hands are busy feeding themselves(!). 
  • Making baby purees can be time consuming, and take up a lot of freezer space. 
  • Accepting new textures may be difficult for babies who experience only smooth textures for a prolonged period. 

Starting With Baby-Led Feeding (also known as Baby-Led Weaning): 

This method offers babies safe table foods that they can grasp with their own hands, rather than spoon feeding purees. 

Pros: 

  • Babies are exposed to a wider variety of foods, textures and flavours, which may reduce picky eating during the toddler years and beyond. 
  • Parents often save time and money, since they are giving babies foods that they also eat (or off their own plates!). 
  • Self-feeding encourages oral and motor skills development. 
  • It’s easier to include your baby at family mealtimes if they are eating bits of the food that the rest of the family is eating. 

Cons:

  • Mealtimes are messy since babies are self-feeding. Be prepared for food on the floor, all over baby, and on you!
  • There may be increased food waste since babies take awhile to get the hang of grasping and eating food. 
  • It’s harder to track how much your baby is eating since food may go more places than just their mouth. 

Can’t decide which method to go with? Try doing both! Many families find that combining spoon-feeding purees with baby-led feeding meets their babies’ needs and their own. Allowing babies to develop the motor skills and eating confidence of self-feeding, while also providing parents with an understanding of how much babies are actually eating through spoon-feeding can be a win for everyone. 

How To Transition From Purees to Baby-Led Feeding

All babies should be eating table foods by 10 months and parents can transition from spoon-feeding purees before or at that time. Here are some tips to make the transition easier.

  1. Start slowly and offer a few pieces of table foods along with purees at each meal. 
  2. Allow your baby to self-feed purees by preloading a spoon or letting them dip it into their bowl. 
  3. Ensure new table foods are safe by offering foods that are soft enough to be squished between your thumb and finger (mashable finger food).