Toddler Show in Halifax - free entry, free parking and baby photo competition

Courier parenting columnist Andrea Wallman brings her second Best Start baby and toddler show to the Shay Banqueting suite on Sunday, October 5. And the best part - it’s free.

Wednesday, 1st October 2014, 9:45 am
parents in the park holding his son on arms

Last year’s event attracted as many as 500 people and this year’s promises to be even bigger. And as an added attraction, this year Andrea has linked with the Courier to help run a beautiful baby competition.

There will be two age categories and prizes, all of which will be announced in next week’s paper just before the show. All you will have to do is turn up with your children and find our photographer Bruce Fitzgerald.

All pictures will be printed in the Courier of October 17 along with a voting form.

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Andrea Wallman

The event will be addressed by two speciliast speakers Amanda Burleigh and Gill Rapley an expert in weaning.

So what are the current thoughts and advice on weaning? Read on ...

The time to wean your baby from milk to solid food can generate a mixture of emotions, including excitement, fear and confusion. The information and advice from family, friends and health professionals is often conflicting, which can all add to the anxiety about how, and when, to wean your baby.

The current NHS advice is that ‘food under one is just for fun’ and that a baby’s main food for the first year is milk – be it breast milk or formula. So the good news is that there is no need to rush your baby into eating three meals a day, you have plenty of time to support your child to develop a healthy relationship with food.

One approach is to use Baby-led Weaning (BLW) pioneered by Gill Rapley, although she is adamant that she didn’t invent it, just gave it a name. Gill was a health visitor for around 20 years; her abiding areas of interest are breastfeeding and the introduction of solid foods.

What is Baby-led weaning?

Baby-led weaning is a common sense, safe, easy and enjoyable approach to feeding your baby.

Most people’s image of weaning babies on to solid foods is of mixing up baby rice or carrot puree, taking aim with the spoon and putting it into the baby’s mouth. Most of it comes back out and the parent then scrapes it back up and tries again.

Baby-led weaning is different. It’s a way of introducing solid foods that allows the baby to feed themselves – there’s no spoon-feeding and no purees. The baby sits with the rest of the family at mealtimes, and joins in when she is ready. Her parents offer her food in sizes and shapes that she can handle and she feeds herself with her fingers, choosing what to eat, how much and how quickly. All healthy babies can do this. They don’t need their parents to decide when weaning should start and they don’t need to be spoon-fed; they just need to be given the opportunity to feed themselves.

“Baby-led weaning allows babies to grow into confident, skilled and happy eaters.”

Why it makes sense?

Baby-led weaning is based on the way babies develop in their first year

lThe Department of Health and the World Health Organisation recommend that babies should have nothing but breast milk (or formula) until they are six months old because their immune and digestive systems aren’t ready for other foods before that

lA normal, healthy six-month-old baby is able to sit upright, pick up pieces of food, take them to his mouth and chew them

lBabies will start to take food to their mouths when they are developmentally ready – when their immune and digestive systems are mature enough to cope with other foods and when they are physically able to get foods to their mouth. This is usually from six months onwards

lAlthough the current UK Department of Health weaning leaflet concentrates on mashed foods for babies, it also advises parents to allow their babies to feed themselves, using their fingers, as soon as they show an interest and to offer finger foods from the beginning. The difference with baby-led weaning is that they do it all themselves, with no need for spoon feeding.

Want to know more?

Gill’s talk is at 2pm with a question and answer session available at the end. Tickets cost £5 (+50p booking fee) and can be purchased from or see for more details. All other talks are free of charge.