For Taylor Scarboro of Mechanicsburg, and her 8-month-old daughter Hadley, meal time is grown-up time.
Ever since the Scarboros started to give Hadley solid foods, instead of feeding her processed or pureed baby food, they skipped right ahead to whole foods. They use a method called baby-led weaning; Hadley teaches herself what foods she likes, and how to eat them.
"They aren’t used to eating. It's a new experience," says Taylor. "They have to learn how far food can go or how far their hands can go. It's all part of the learning experience."
On this morning, breakfast consists of a piece of french toast cut into long strips, halved blueberry pieces, and orange slices. The Scarboros were concerned about choking at first, but not anymore; studies in Europe showed baby-led weaning carried no greater choking risk.
Also, they've found it's helped with their own diet.
"We buy healthy options," Taylor says. "My husband and I are making better choices because the food we have in the house, we’re giving to the baby."
However, baby-led weaning isn't for everyone, and some medical professionals, like Dr. Jeffrey Monk, a pediatrician with Wellspan, won't recommend it to his families.
"It's newer and we don't have a lot of data on it yet," Dr. Monk says.
According to him, the American Academy of Pediatrics still recommends baby is given spoon-fed, pureed food to start, before transitioning to smaller solids they can fit in the palm of their hand.
"Those babies who are doing that type of feeding should be older, like 6 months of age," says Monk, who adds you can start having the conversation about solid foods as early as 4-months old.
Monk says parents should look for numerous signs that tell them their baby is ready for food:
- Good head/neck control to sit up in a high-chair
- Baby knows how to open their mouth
- Baby reaches for food
- Knows how to turn away when they are full
He adds that even if it appears a baby isn't liking a certain food, keep giving it to them.
"It can take a baby trying food 10 to 15 times to get a preference for it," Monk says.
Pediatricians also say when solid foods are introduced, stay away from seasoned foods; no added salts and peppers.