One popular method for weaning your Little One off pureed food and onto solid foods is baby led weaning.
Baby led weening involves letting your child feed themselves finger foods instead of spoon-feeding them purees. If you're going to take on baby led weaning, then you'll need to make sure you have the right utensils on hand to help your little one succeed.
Today we’ll share our top picks for the best baby led weaning utensils as well as some tips on how to use them successfully!
What Is Baby Led Weaning?
To understand baby led weaning, let’s quickly understand what “weaning” means.
Weaning is the process of introducing solid food to your baby who was previously bottle fed or breast fed.
Simple enough, right?
The difference between traditional weaning and baby led weaning is that baby led weaning encourages the introduction of foods through self-feeding. Baby led weaning provides an alternative to parent-led spoon feedings and purees that are traditionally relied on as a babies’ first food.
The big thing about baby led weaning is that it encourages parents to offer tiny, appropriately sized pieces of regular foods from the start of feeding.
In baby led weaning, the parents job is to pick what foods to offer their baby, when to offer them, and in which size and shape to offer them. This encourages the baby to develop the skills to feed on their own.
Benefits of Baby Led Weening
Interested in baby-led weaning? You should be! There are many advantages to baby led weaning that make it beneficial for both parents and babies alike.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits:
Benefit #1: Baby Led Weaning Saves Money and Time
Let’s face one very real fact: baby food costs a FORTUNE. With inflation putting the hurt on families all over the world, many families are having trouble affording a single jar of baby food that costs $3.00.
With baby led weaning, you can meal prep with your baby in mind. If you are preparing food for your entire family, you can plan it out so you don’t have to buy separate food for your baby.
Maybe you change a few ingredients to make it baby friendly, but baby led weaning can save your family both time and money
Benefit #2: Baby Gets Social Interaction
One of the major benefits of baby-led weaning is that it introduces babies to the idea of family mealtime. When baby gets to eat with his or her family, it offers the baby positive social and developmental reinforcement.
When babies eat with their family they will begin to learn how to chew, swallow, and use utensils by looking towards their parents or other role models in the family.
Benefit #3: Helps Baby’s Fine Motor Skills
Baby led weaning allows babies a real-world opportunity to practice their fine motor skills.
During mealtime, baby will get to practice on how to pick up their food, bring it towards their mouth, and the act of chewing and swallowing.
All of this activity requires baby to utilitze fine motor skills that will contribute to baby’s overall growth and development.
Benefit #4: Exposure to A Wide Variety of Foods
The world of pre-packaged baby food is fairly limited. It is mostly fruit or vegetable-based purees with soft textures. Not only that, many baby foods contain added sugars and other ingredients that may not be best for baby’s health.
One of the major benefits of baby led weaning is that it exposes babies to a wide variety of different foods at a much younger age.
With baby led weaning parents are encouraged to let baby eat along with the rest of the family – meaning that baby will experience new and exciting foods that are not available in the baby food section.
This will not only be a benefit when your baby is small, but when they grow into their toddler phase and have a much more diversified and refined palette!
When Should a Child Stop Eating with Their Hands?
One question that parents often ask around baby led weaning is “When should a child stop eating with their hands?”
When your child is ready to stop eating with their hands, they will let you know. Simple. As. That.
There is no set age when a child should stop using utensils, but most children are ready by age 2 or 3.
If your child is still using their hands to eat beyond this age, it is not cause for concern. Some children simply prefer to eat this way and there is nothing wrong with it.
When your child is ready to start using utensils, they will likely let you know in one of two ways:
- They will start grabbing utensils from you when you are eating; or
- They will start playing with utensils on their own.
If you see your child doing either of these things, it is a good indication that they are ready to start using utensils.
The best way to help your child transition from eating with their hands to using utensils is to let them led the way.
This will led us right into our brief discussion on the benefits of baby led weaning.
What Are the Best Baby Led Weaning Utensils?
When it comes to baby led weaning, there are a few different types of utensils that you can use. The good news is that there are amazing utensils specifically designed for to meet your baby’s needs.
If you are looking for the best baby cutlery sets on the market, we can’t recommend Doddl baby cutlery highly enough.
The UK-based company has won awards for their innovative, baby-friendly design from dozens of major media outlets and has hundreds of thousands happy customers that can attest just how amazing this baby cutlery is.
Here are a few different types of utensils that you can use for baby led weaning:
Spoons are a great option for baby led weaning because they are easy for babies to hold onto. You can also use a spoon to help your baby eat pureed foods.
Forks are another great option for baby led weaning. Forks are a little bit more challenging for babies to use, but they can be great for picking up small pieces of food.
Fingers as a utensil!? We know this is cheating, but when it comes to solids, fingers are probably the best utensils your baby has.
Finger food is a great option for baby led weaning because it allows your baby to feed themselves. Finger food can be anything from small pieces of fruit to crackers or even cooked pasta.
No matter what type of utensil you decide to use for baby led weaning, the most important thing is that your baby is comfortable and able to eat the food.
The key takeaway is this: The best type of utensil to use for baby led weaning is the one that your baby is most comfortable with!
How to Help Your Baby Use Weaning Utensils Successfully
If you're thinking about giving baby led weaning a try, then you'll need the right tools for the job.
Rather than settle for adult-sized utensils which will be cumbersome and messy for your baby to use, you will need baby led weaning utensils are specially designed to be easy for little hands to grasp.
Here are a few tips to help you get started with baby led weening:
- Choose the Right Size Utensil
Baby led weaning utensils come in different sizes, shapes and colors. Choose one that is comfortable for your baby to hold.
We can’t recommend the Doddl baby cutlery set highly enough for your baby’s first cutlery set. The Doddl baby cutlery is specially designed to be short and has soft, ergonomic grips that makes it super easy for your baby to use.
We’ve used it ourselves, and it’s amazing just how quickly that your baby can learn to use cuterly when they have something that feels good in their little fingers!
- Start with Soft Foods
When you first start out, it's best to stick with soft foods. This will make it easier for your baby to learn how to use the utensil and will ensure you are not risking any choking hazards.
- Encourage Your Baby to Self-Feed
Don't try to force your baby to use the utensil, instead, encourage them to self-feed. Giving your baby space to explore and learn how to use their new equipment will help them to develop a positive association with the utensil.
- Be Patient
It may take a while for your baby to get the hang of using the utensil. Some babies might pick it up in a day, while others will take weeks or even months to figure it out.
Each baby develops at a different pace, but what’s most important is that you are patient and keep trying! You may be surprised that your baby will figure out how to use their utensils in a very short period of time.
Common Problems with Weaning Utensils
If you're using baby led weaning utensils and find that your baby is having trouble using them, don't worry!
Here are some troubleshooting tips for common problems:
- If your baby is having trouble picking up food with utensils, try using a different food
Some foods are easier to pick up than others. It may be easy to pick up a small piece of broccoli and it may be more difficult to pick up a slippery piece of pasta.
If you notice your baby struggling to pick up their food, try changing it out with something that may be a little bit easier for them to pick up.
- If your baby is dropping the food off the utensil … try using a different type of utensil.
It may seem counterintuitive, but while it may be easier for you to pick up pasta with a fork, it may be easier for your baby to scoop it up with a spoon.
If you see your baby dropping food off their utensil, go ahead and substitute it out with another type. Maybe they will still drop their food, or maybe they will surprise you and come up with an interesting way to get it into their mouth!
- If your baby is having trouble using the utensils because they keep slipping out of their hands – try using a different type of utensil
Some utensils are easier to hold onto than others – or your baby just might like the shape of a spoon better than a fork.
If you see that your baby is having trouble with their utensil, try subbing it out with another type.
Just let them keep eating with their hands and they will eventually make the switch when they are ready.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Baby Led Weaning Utensils
Ready for some quick-fire questions and answers about baby led weaning utensils? Here we go!
What are the best Utensils for Baby Led Weaning?
There is no definitive answer to this question as different babies will prefer different utensils.
Some parents find that their baby does best with an ergonomic metal spoon like the Doddl baby cutlerly set, while others find that their baby prefers to self-feed with their fingers.
Ultimately, it is up to the parent to experiment with different utensils and see what works best for their baby.
When Should I Introduce Baby Cutlery?
Some parents choose to introduce cutlery from the very beginning, while others wait until their baby is a little older and more developmentally ready.
Ultimately, it is up to the parent to decide when the time is right for their individual child.
What do You Need to Buy for Baby Led Weaning?
You will need to buy a few things for baby-led weaning utensils, including:
- A highchair or booster seat that straps onto a regular chair
- A bib
- A smock or apron
- A set of soft, silicone, baby-safe utensils (spoons, forks, etc.)
Baby led weaning can be a great alternative to traditional spoon-feeding, but it's important to have the right utensils on hand to make the transition as smooth as possible.
We hope our list of the best baby led weaning utensils has helped you choose the perfect ones for your little one! And remember, if you have any troubles using them, don't hesitate to ask your pediatrician or a lactation consultant for help.
Thanks for reading and hope you learned something new today!