Baby-led weaning should just be called “I can’t be arsed to cook and purée extra food”. Sure, I bought an ice cube tray and tried putting pre-cooked vegetables in it for exactly one day. Those vegetables sat there in the freezer, undefrosted and lonely, while I realised that The Child would much rather steal food off my plate and throw it on the floor after trying it.
Yes, there can be a lot of waste. But none of the special baby food I cooked and mashed was tolerated, and she really disdained anything that came out of a pouch — if I’d bought into the Infantino system (look it up, it’s a solution looking for a problem) I’d have wasted my money, effort, and food.
Yes, they can gag when they learn to eat chunks of food. But gagging is not choking. You’re not supposed to take your eyes off a baby who’s eating anyway.
With The Child, she preferred to feed herself, and giving her food off my plate (I ate a lot of omelettes and salads in her early days of weaning) was so easy that we still do it to some extent these days. She’s also big on grazing, as I am, so we consume lots of (healthy, er, ish) snacks. Whether or not you decide to do things like cut grapes in half is up to you, as The Child only eats pre-cut grapes if they belong to someone else. She can be a little shit.
Whether you go down the chunky or purée route, weaning a baby onto solids is a messy business*. In my opinion, it’s best not to rely too much on pre-packaged meals as it’s unlikely to be as tasty or nutritious as freshly-prepared food, but having some isn’t going to hurt your baby, as long as you take care with the salt and sugar content.
* No one told me that babies were smart enough to figure out how to pull off their bibs within a short time of wearing them. If you have a baby who doesn’t like wearing a bib, I empathise completely.