Does Baby-led Weaning Cause Food Waste?

food near a baby's bare foot that has fallen to the footplate

When I first started Adie+Max on solids with baby-led weaning, I was taken aback at how much food ended up on the floor. I am a mama who considers myself to be environmentally aware. I mean, at one point, I had whole vermicomposting sytem set up on our deck.

Does baby-led weaning increase food waste? Compared to the controlled approach of spoonfeeding, yes, there is going to be more food on the floor, the walls, in your dog’s mouth… But while we are on the topic of picky eating, let me give you some other things to consider: 

A preschooler’s lunch box that comes home uneaten. The cheese is warm and oozy. Ham sandwich not salvagable. Fruit mashed into the pretzels. The entire contents goes into the trash.

Your toddler’s throws their plate over in anger because it’s not the brand of chicken nuggets they like. 

A hamburger at Shake Shake is left uneaten. Well, the bun was nibbled at. Meat untouched. My guess is that you’re not going to put the patty in a bag and take it with you.

Food wasted as a result of YEARS of picky eating is hands down a bigger problem than food wasted by a baby learning to eat. And soon, your babe won’t be eating with you. You’ll be getting up early to pack a cute little lunch that will come back untouched and unsalvagable.

There are posts circulating how baby-led weaning does not prevent picky eating. It’s true: picky eating is typically multifaceted and much more complicated than just how you started solids. But what I do know for sure is that prolonged and controlled spoonfeeding, excessive wiping or cleaning of your baby while they are eating, and not letting your baby self-feed when they are developmentally ready for it will absolutely increase the likelihood of picky eating. And then sometimes you do everything right and it still happens. Because humans.

So the next time you’re on your hands and knees picking up pieces of rice from the carpet, I want you to remember that you are making an investment in a lunch box that might just return empty. 

xo Jenny

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