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Am I being a bad parent by... thinking baby-led weaning just isn't worth the stress?

…And the mess? Three experts weigh in on one mum’s dilemma.

Image: Shutterstock/Oksana Kuzmina

EACH WEEK, WE hear from a reader who can’t figure out what to do about a tricky parenting situation. To get a balanced take on the dilemma, we ask three Irish parenting experts to weigh in.

From deciding whether to push toilet training to allowing a baby to ‘cry it out’, being a parent often means making a decision based on what’s best for your child, not what’s easiest.

This week, a parent wonders whether to continue baby led weaning with her son, which is currently making mealtimes stressful.

This week’s dilemma

My son is just over eight months and I’ve been trying baby led weaning (BLW) with him for the last four weeks. We had some success in the first couple of days (he fed himself some avocado early on), but since then he hasn’t gone beyond putting the food in his mouth and spitting it back out or just taking it out of his mouth. He’s still breastfeeding so I’m not worried about nutrients, but aside from the few times I have spoon fed him some of the food mashed up, he hasn’t ingested solid food in three weeks. I find myself getting upset at mealtimes. Am I being unreasonable by giving up on BLW?

No, you are not being unreasonable. However, you have to meet your child half way. Mealtime should be a relaxing time when all the family sit down together to eat. The important thing to remember is not to become anxious. Your son may want to try using a spoon as they see you with one. Yes it will be messy but he will be learning. Why not try spoon feeding while he is exploring the food? He may not feel the need to eat as he is still being breastfed. 

 - Brian Purcell, Occupational Therapist.

You’re not being unreasonable. It’s never unreasonable to want to see your child thriving and progressing. I’m a firm believer in all things parenting, and that a balanced combination of approaches is a fantastic way to raise kids. No one way is the absolute perfect way, each child and family must do what’s right for their household. I also totally disagree with the school of thought “food before one is just for fun.” I believe food from six months is so important on so many learning levels.

I would support spoon feeding your child at meals times if that’s what you think is best, as you know best for your baby. Without exposure and practice none of us can learn a new skill therefore I would always advise making sure you offer water from a beaker and at least one finger food option in tandem with spoon feeds at all meal times and snack times. 

- Deirdre Holland Hannon, Behaviour Specialist at @deehollhan.
Yes, you are being unreasonable to give up now. It sounds to me like BLW is working perfectly. You are actually having great success with it as he is making his own independent decisions! What he is doing is very normal.
He might be teething or just experimenting. You can try offering different textures or food tastes, but provided he still has full access to the breast, all solid food until a year is as much about experimentation and fun as about nutrition. Most of my kids did exactly what yours is doing right now. #keepthefaith!
- Krysia Lynch, Maternity Care Expert at Krysia.ie

So what’s the final tally? Is this reader being unreasonable?

Yes – 1

No – 2

Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

Have a parenting question you want answered? Let us know anonymously in our survey here or email us on family@thejournal.ie and we’ll put it to the experts. 

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