By: Kristen Yarker
There’s a debate (that’s often heated) in the baby food world: What is the best baby food – puree or finger food?
If you’ve been browsing the internet or your local bookstore you’ve likely seen both of these. There are cookbooks and recipes galore for all sorts of gourmet baby purees/ mush. Then there’s the Baby Led Weaning movement who promote baby and toddler meals consisting of only finger foods.
Which side of the debate do I fall on?
I’ll tell you in a minute, for now here are the facts.
The Baby Led Weaning Method
- Your child is very involved in the feeding process. They can control how much they eat and what they eat from what’s provided.
- There’s lots of opportunity to learn eating skills.
- Baby experiences foods with different textures before the picky eating stage begins which can help minimize picky behaviour.
- Often parents focus on providing vegetables, fruit and grains resulting in not meeting the recommendations for offering iron-rich foods twice a day.
- Purees are a texture that adults eat too (e.g. pureed soups, mashed root vegetables). If purees are avoided all together then there isn’t the opportunity for little ones to learn the skills needed to eat them.
- If food is given in the wrong shapes/sizes, can increase choking risk.
Feeding Baby Purees
- Lots of iron-rich food options – minced meats and poultry (e.g. chicken), mashed egg yolk, iron-enriched infant cereal (mush)
- Minimal choking risk.
- You can inadvertently over-feed your baby due to the desire for your little one to eat more/ concern that your little one isn’t eating enough.
- Lends itself to mindless eating – parents can sneak spoonfuls in when babies aren’t paying attention.
- Parents’ fear of choking and/or getting in the habit of giving purees, can interfere with giving little ones the opportunity to learn eating skills.
- Introducing a variety of textures becomes more challenging if not done before the picky eating phase begins.
What do I think?
I’d say that I’m slightly in the Baby Led Weaning camp. However, I see pros and cons with both methods.
Bottom Line: Both puree and Baby Led Weaning can be healthy paths. My recommendation is Baby Led Weaning, offering iron-rich foods twice a day and avoiding choking hazards (and not forgetting purees in the mix of textures).
What about you – are you following the puree path or Baby Led Weaning?
Kristen is a child feeding expert often referred to as The Dietitian who Transforms Picky Eaters into Food-Confident Kids. She shows families evidence-based strategies to gets kids to try new foods on their own (without negotiations, deception, or being sneaky) to start them along a path to a life-long LOVE of healthy eating. When she’s not gardening, shopping at a farmers’ markets, cooking or entertaining she’s balancing all her food related interests by taking her surfboard down off the wall (where’s it’s been collecting dust for almost 10 years) and is getting back in the water. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.