We spoke to Dr Rana Conway, a nutritionist and author of Weaning Made Easy (£10.99, White Ladder Press), about spoon-fed weaning.
What is it?
Spoon-fed weaning can start from when your baby is six months old and simply means you use a spoon to put the food in your baby’s mouth. ‘You usually purée food to make it easier for a baby to handle,’ says nutritionist Dr Rana Conway.
What are the benefits?
It’s – relatively – mess free. There will still be food smears decorating your baby, the high chair and the floor, but with you in charge of the spoon, the mess can be contained.
You may feel more relaxed about spoon-feeding because there’s a low risk of your baby gagging or choking.
It’s also easy to make sure your baby is getting a range of foods. Until she’s about nine months, your baby may not have the dexterity she needs to pick up her food and transfer it to her mouth. As this method means you’re putting the food in her mouth, you can make a fair estimate of how much food she’s actually consuming.
Are there any downsides?
If you purée your baby’s food too finely, or stick with purées for too long, your child may dislike lumps. So it’s important to start making her food more textured within a few weeks of beginning weaning. Introduce mashed food and soft finger-food, such as a long strip of soft cucumber.
Ignore reports that spoon-fed babies end up fatter than children who had baby-led weaning: ‘There isn’t enough evidence to support this,’ says Rana.
Read more: Baby-led weaning: recipes, tips and ideas
What do I need to know?
Place food in front of your baby. ‘She is more likely to respond positively if she can see what’s happening,’ says Rana. ‘Being able to see, smell and touch the food is important, as well as taste.’
Use a soft, shallow, age-appropriate spoon. ‘Metal spoons are too hard for a baby’s soft teeth and gums,’ adds Rana. ‘Young babies suck their spoons, so you need one that won’t hurt.’
Let your baby grab the spoon if she wants to. ‘Babies are keen to grasp things and to get involved,’ says Rana. ‘You may find she wants to hold a spoon in each hand. The more active your baby's role during mealtimes, the more she will enjoy food.’
Wait until your baby opens her mouth. ‘At first, you may need to touch the spoon gently against her lips,' says Rana, 'but once she knows what to expect, let her decide if she wants to eat the food.’
The best first foods:
Puréed pear: gentle on the digestive system and full of vitamin C, which helps your little one absorb vital iron.
Porridge: cereals for babies are often fortified with vitamins.
Puréed avocado: packed with vitamin E and easy to digest.
3 essential buys for spoon-fed weaning:
Pack of five Soft-Tip Weaning Spoons, £3.49, vitalbaby.co.uk
If your baby likes to grab the spoon, you’re likely to use three or four in a feed.
Oxo Tot Divided Dish, £8.17, amazon.co.uk
Feed two purées at once with this bowl. It has a lip to remove excess from the spoon.
Philips Avent Combined Baby Food Steamer and Blender, £118.50, philips.co.uk
This will save time if you’re making purées. It’s pricey but well worth it.