How to reduce food waste with baby-led weaning

This morning for breakfast, I cut up some pieces of banana for my 6-month old son, some of
which he was able to mash up in his hands and guide into his mouth, some of which ended up
stuck to various parts of his body, but most of which ended up on the floor. As a new parent, I
was excited to introduce solids through baby-led weaning, but what I did not anticipate was the
food waste associated with this approach.


In contrast to introducing your baby to solids through purees and spoon feeding, baby-led
weaning focuses on providing your baby with finger food, and allowing them to feed themselves
as they develop their dexterity and oral skills. The learning curve is steep, so not all food ends
up in your baby’s mouth. From an environmental perspective, the food wastage is hard to
stomach. Setting expectations are key for this approach: food will miss your baby’s mouth as
they learn to feed themselves, but there are some ways that you can stick with this approach
and remain an environmentally conscious caregiver.

● Take care to prepare appropriate portion sizes for your baby. Baby stomachs are small
so you need only make a little bit of food compared to adult portions.
● Place an easily cleaned table cloth beneath your feeding area, so that you can salvage
any bits of food that fall to the floor.
● If you have the space, set yourself up a compost for the food that ends up
unsalvageable.
● Feed your baby in-season and locally grown produce, when possible.


Thinking big picture, baby-led weaning is shown to help your child develop self-regulation
around food, and can support a diverse palette. These skills will lend themselves well when your
child is more independent and eating outside of the home. Although I’m currently seeing a lot of
food waste surrounding me with this approach, I envision a future where my son returns home
with his lunch box empty because we have developed a good awareness of his food
preferences and his levels of consumption.

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