If you have recently started baby-led weaning with your little one, you will undoubtedly have realized it is not always as easy as friends, family, and even people on social media have made it out to be. Maybe your baby loves it, but if not, how do you do baby-led weaning with an unwilling baby?
The key to doing baby-led weaning with an unwilling baby is to have patience. Try different foods, take a break for a week or two and start again, offer different textured food, or try seating them in a different position. All babies get the hang of baby-led weaning; some just need more time.
If your baby does not seem to be interested in baby-led weaning, there are many reasons that may be detouring them from it. Let us explore some of those reasons and what you can do about it.
Why Is My Baby Unwilling To Try Baby Led Weaning?
Sometimes parents unknowingly have unrealistic expectations of what they expect from their babies.
It is not at all that you have a too high standard of your child, but you may be expecting something of them that they truly can not live up to at their current age and where they are developmentally right now.
The aim of solid foods for the first few months of their solid food journey is more to try and explore food and become comfortable with it.
If your baby is not enjoying baby led weaning right now, that is absolutely okay. They will come around to it once they get used to it.
In the meantime, maybe look at changing things up a little, as there may be other reasons your child is not enjoying baby-led weaning. It may not have anything to do with the food itself.
Your Baby May Not Like Their High Chair
Your baby may not actually enjoy being in their high chair for eating meals yet.
This could be due to a negative association with the chair; they will remember that they simply do not like being in this chair even though they may not know why.
Being in this chair could then be making them upset, and they are fussy and unwilling to cooperate with you while being in it.
If this is the case, your baby may seem uninterested in the food you are offering them, but in reality, they are just unhappy being in their chair.
They May Not Like A Feeding Schedule
To make extra sure their little ones are getting the right amount of solids a day, many parents will set up a feeding schedule and feed their babies the same food at the same time every day.
For example, they’ll feed their baby rice cereal at 9 am every day and a vegetable, like sweet potato, at 3 pm every day.
Some babies may not enjoy this routine. Babies often do not stick to the same time schedule every day as far sleeping and waking up goes, so why would they want to stick to eating at the same time every day either?
It may be easier to just go with the flow when it comes to feeding times and feed your day at different times throughout the day to see what times work for you and your baby each day.
They May Not Be Hungry When You Have Been Offering Them Food
The times that you have chosen to feed your baby may have been wrong opportunities as they may not have been hungry.
Some babies are hungry when they wake up, and some will not want food for another hour after waking up.
It is possible that you were offering your baby food at an inopportune time when they were not hungry and therefore not interested in the food you were offering.
Try feeding your baby half as much milk as they will usually eat and then offering them some solids.
This will be a great point to feed your baby as they will not be so hungry that they’ll get frustrated, and they will also not be full.
This may work in getting your baby to enjoy solids, or at least be more open to trying them.
They May Be Uncomfortable In The Position They Are Being Fed
A baby’s tummy is still a very sensitive thing, and somethings they can become upset over small things such as the position they are sitting in.
If your baby is sitting slightly slouched over while eating, this may cause their diaper to squeeze on their tummy, which could make their tummy feel upset while eating.
Try to help your baby to keep their back and body more upright when feeding them, and this may help them feel better when they are eating.
There are so many different reasons that a baby does not seem to be enjoying baby-led weaning that may not actually have to do with the food at all.
Can I Ease My Baby Into Led Weaning?
Easing your baby into baby-led weaning is the best way to try to ensure that it will work with your baby.
If you take the process slowly and allow your baby to explore baby-led weaning slowly, this will lead to them feeling more comfortable with it, which in turn will mean they are more likely to enjoy baby-led weaning.
Here are a few easy ways to try and ease your baby into baby led weaning as appose to jumping right in and making your baby feel uncomfortable with a big and sudden change:
Introduce Mashed Food Before Finger Food
If your baby has been on purees and you would like to now give them the chance to explore their own food with baby-led weaning, try to avoid going straight from purees to finger foods.
Find the happy medium between purees and finger food and try offering this to your baby to eat on their own first.
It is easy to do this; all that you will need to do is roughly mash the food you prepare for your baby instead of blending it finely into a puree.
For example, if you have been giving your baby butternut squash puree, try steaming some butternut squash until it is nice and soft, and then using a potato masher or a fork, roughly mash the butternut pieces.
The pieces should be broken up into small, smooshed pieces that are mashed but not completely mashed that there are no chunks in it.
This will allow your baby to grab onto the mash to put in their mouth (as opposed to puree that they can not truly grab, but rather dunk their hand in), but the food will still look more familiar to them than finger food would.
You can slowly start leaving bigger chunks for them to grab in the bowl until they are clearly comfortable with the bigger pieces. This is when you could start offering them finger food to hold.
Offer a piece of finger food for your baby to chew on and explore when they are not hungry to begin with.
This will help introduce baby-led weaning to your baby outside of meal time so that they will not get hungry and frustrated with finger food.
This can often cause a negative association with finger food and lead to a baby refusing to do baby-led weaning.
What If My Baby Refuses Baby Led Weaning?
If your baby is just completely refusing baby-led weaning, be patient with them. Stop trying to do baby-led weaning for a week or two and revisit it again later on.
It is really important for your child to have a happy and healthy relationship with food, and if they feel that they are being forced into something, they may begin to develop a negative association towards food.
Have you ever seen an adult that will not eat solid food and will only eat purees? Most probably not! So take heart that your baby will eventually get the hang of it, but each baby is different and will do things at their own pace.
Babies have never been, and will never be, a once size fits all in any way, and this includes food.
Some babies simply may not enjoy doing baby-led weaning, and that is completely okay. The only that they get they will naturally want to start feeding themselves.
If you have taken breaks and repeatedly tried to introduce baby-led weaning to your child, and they are still not interested, maybe it really is just not for them.
As long as your baby is fed and happy, do not worry about how it happens. Your baby is a beautiful individual and will figure out how to eat food in their own time and at their own pace.
What’s The Best Way To Get Your Baby Interested In Baby Led Weaning?
The best way to get your baby interested in baby-led weaning is to try and make food as interesting to your baby in every way that you possibly can.
There are so many different ways that you can make food interesting to your baby. Here are a few examples:
Cut Food Into Shapes
Cutting your child’s food into lots of different shapes will make food look more enticing and fun.
You can do this in a lot of different ways. For example, you can cut a strawberry into many different shapes, such as sticks, disks, cubes, triangles, and stars.
You can cut a kiwi fruit into sticks, stars, squares, cubes, disks, hearts, and semi-circles.
You can cut avo into strips, cubes, and thin, flat slices.
You can cut a cucumber into sticks, circles, semi-circles, stars, squares, spirals, and flowers.
Cutting your fruit and vegetables into different shapes will make your baby more interested in them. This is because there will be so many different new shapes to see and look at, which is super fun for your baby.
Use Lots Of Different Colors
Babies are drawn to colors. They are bright and fun and intrigue your baby into wanting to hold and touch them, which will then, in turn, lead to your baby putting the food in their mouth.
There are many bright-colored foods that you can offer your baby that will catch their eye. Here are some examples:
- Red Food – Red bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, and beets.
- Green Food – Kiwi fruit, green bell pepper, avo, cucumber, broccoli, green beans, cucumber, and spinach.
- Yellow Food – Corn, yellow bell peppers, bananas, and pasta.
- Orange Food – Carrots, orange bell peppers, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and papaya.
Offering your baby different colored food on the same plate will help grab your baby’s attention and help them to stay interested in the food on their plate.
However, be sure to not offer too many different color options on their plate at once, or it may make your baby feel overwhelmed having so many different options to choose from.
Use Different Textures
Babies love textures. That is why they enjoy sensory play so much. Give your baby lots of different textures to explore with their food, and it will get them more and more interested in their food.
Here are some different textures that you can think about offering your baby at mealtimes:
Avo – you can give your baby some avo as a slimy texture for them to enjoy.
Steamed Carrots – steamed carrots will be slightly crunchy and fun for your baby to figure out how to chew on.
Spaghetti Squash – spaghetti squash will be stringy and soft and fun for your baby to push around in their fingers and mouth.
These are just some suggestions for different foods with different textures that you can offer your baby to explore.
Babies who are unwilling to try baby-led weaning often just need more time to adjust to it and explore different kinds of food that will intrigue them.
Try different colors, shapes, and textures and give them different options to get them exploring their food.
If they are still completely uninterested in baby-led weaning, try changing the position that your baby is sitting in, offering food at different times of the day, or easing them into it slowly.
Babies are very rarely completely oppose to eating food. They may just need more time or a different environment or food option.