Nurseries 'must let babies feed themselves'

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Nurseries need to re-think babies' mealtimes and allow them to feed themselves or risk losing business, according to baby-led weaning advocate Gill Rapley.

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Speaking to Nursery World, the former health visitor and co-author of Baby-led weaning: helping your baby to love good food said that nursery practitioners should not be reluctant to embrace the method which involves children feeding themselves rather than being spoon-fed puree.

'Nurseries need to know about baby-led weaning, because increasingly more parents are finding out about it and wanting to do it,' she said.

'I have seen many exchanges on internet forums between parents, with one mother saying that their nursery is struggling with the idea. Other mothers straight away advise that if they are having problems, they should change the nursery. If a nursery is not prepared to support baby-led weaning, then the mother will find somewhere else to send their child.'

Ms Rapley added, 'Childcarers should not be afraid of baby-led weaning. It is popular because people find that it works and the principles resonate with parents. Few try it and do not like it, and in those cases it is often because they are not able to let go and give control over to the child.'

Staff at Blue Grass Purple Cow Nursery in Stockport, Cheshire, were happy to try baby-led weaning and found it a success. Nursery owner Kimberly Munro said, 'When a mother broached the subject of baby-led weaning with us the response from staff was, "Great, what would you like us to do?". They were enthusiastic to try something new and it worked really well.'

She said she would like to encourage more parents to follow baby-led weaning and is planning on holding an evening session for local parents for them to learn more and speak to a health visitor.

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