Baby led weaning Growing Skills babies Learn to eat solid food naturally, it’s a part of a baby’s development—just like crawling, walking, and talking. It’s a normal part of growing up. Although some babies develop faster than others, the progress of all babies follows a set pattern, and new skills are acquired in more or less the same order for every baby.
Most babies will learn how to do the following in this order:
- sit up
- stand up
This principle works for all aspects of a baby’s development—including feeding.
How babies develop their Skills.
Babies develop these skills without having to be taught them. they don’t really “learn” them, they just become able to do them. Some skills develop gradually, and others seem to appear overnight, but they are all the result of the baby practicing movements and putting them together. These skills are developing continuously, right from the moment the baby is born. Many early movements are instinctive, but, as babies gain more control over their muscles, they begin to be able to do things purposefully.
Baby led weaning Growing Skills At birth.
At birth, babies are able to find their own way to the breast and latch on to feed. All normal, healthy babies who are born at term have this survival skill in place. They also have a basic swallowing reflex. The suckling action used at the breast or on a bottle takes milk to the back of the baby’s mouth, where the swallowing mechanism is triggered.
From about three months on.
Babies start finding their hands: they catch sight of them and begin to wave them in front of their face and study them. If anything touches their palm, their fist spontaneously closes around it. Gradually, they begin to bring their hands purposefully to their mouth. At this age their muscles are still not very well coordinated—babies may hit themselves in the face by mistake or seem surprised to find that they have something in their hand.
Baby led weaning Growing Skills By about four months.
By about four months a baby can reach out toward things that interest him. As his movements become more refined, he begins to be able to move his arms and hands accurately to grab hold of interesting objects and take them to his mouth. His lips and tongue are very sensitive, and the baby uses them to learn about the taste, texture, shape, and size of everyday things.
At six months old.
Most babies can reach for easy-to-grab objects, pick them up in their fist, and get them to their mouth accurately. If a baby has the opportunity to look at, reach for, and grab food (rather than just toys), he will take it to his mouth. Although it looks as though he is feeding himself, he won’t actually swallow the food; he’ll just explore it with his lips and tongue.
Between six and nine months.
Between six and nine months several abilities develop, one after the other. First, the baby manages to bite or gnaw off a small piece of food with his gums (or his teeth, if he has any). Soon after this he discovers how to keep the food in his mouth for a while and, because the size and shape of the inside of his mouth has changed and he now has more control of his tongue, he is able to move the food around and chew it. At this stage though, as long as he is sitting upright it will almost certainly fall out of his mouth rather than be swallowed.
Unlike milk (from a breast or bottle), which is sucked.
At around nine months.
At around nine months the baby will develop the “pincer grip”—a way of using his thumb and forefinger to pick up small objects (or food). Before this happens it’s unlikely he will be able to get anything very small (such as a raisin or a pea) to his mouth.
Babies who are allowed to feed themselves at every mealtime get lots of chances to practice these skills and quickly become confident and adept. Just as babies will walk when they are ready, so, it seems, they will start to eat solid foods when they are ready—provided they are given the opportunity.
Baby led weaning Growing Skills Some Research.
Most research into babies starting solids has concentrated on when the baby should start and what the baby should be fed. The relationship between how babies develop and how they start solids has been largely overlooked. But when babies were observed handling food (see Appendix 1, page 221), it became clear that they instinctively know when they are ready for solid foods and that they will naturally develop the skills needed to feed themselves.