Baby led weaning: your baby’s first taste of independence. They get to do the feeding! (Well, kind of. Their main source of nutrition is still milk… more on that later)
Baby led weaning is all about putting solid foods quite literally in the hands of your baby. It’s an approach that’s beautifully messy (a high percentage of that food is floor-bound) and very convenient.
Known by its acronym BLW, baby led weaning has been around since babies have been babies. Even before the advent of the store-bought puree, mamas have been offering appropriate soft foods to their babies to keep them nourished and start their lifelong relationship with solid foods.
More recently, baby led weaning has entered the realm of parenting chic. Made popular in 2008 by a book by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett, BLW has become a sought-after method to take the stress out of mealtimes and kickstart your little one’s culinary connections.
This method is highly praised because it has two serious draw cards:
- The development of healthy eating habits. It allows your baby to develop their own relationship with food and eating, right from the get-go. This can mean they learn lessons in self-regulation early on, and tap into when they are feeling full.
- Wow, is it easier. In many cases, baby led weaning may just mean modifying what you’re already having for dinner and not putting on a whole separate culinary show for the littlest member of the household. It also may mean skipping purees altogether.
It’s all very enticing but does require some patience. Your baby has to be ready for the solids coming their way.
Baby led weaning FAQs
When can you start baby led weaning?
Different babies will be ready for baby led weaning at different times. A very general ballpark age is 6 months—but your little one has to be ready for this kind of commitment.
How do I know if my baby is ready for baby led weaning?
Here’s a quick checklist that will help you determine whether your baby is baby led weaning ready:
- They can sit up in a high chair with their head held higher.
- They’ve reached a suitable weight. A good rule of thumb? If they’re double their birth weight it’s likely they’re ready.
- They seem to be into the food thing. This may mean they watch you eat with longing in their eyes or they actively try to reach for your snacks.
- Food goes in more than it goes out. They have to get more of it down than they are spitting out.
How do I start baby led weaning?
Baby led weaning doesn’t mean abandoning breastmilk or formula. Rather, it’s about introducing choke-free (think small and soft) pieces of food to your baby when they are sitting upright in their high chair.
And it’s as simple as this: offer them food, and help out where necessary.
It’s important to remember the “baby led” part. When they’re not into it anymore, it’s time to stop.
Is baby led weaning dangerous?
Baby led weaning is dangerous if you leave your little one in the kitchen with some ingredients and a hot stove, and hope that they’ll fend for themselves. If, however, you start them at the right age, prepare appropriate foods (again, think small and soft!), and closely supervise their feeding times, it’s safe.
Baby led weaning foods
What foods do you start with for baby led weaning?
It’s all about the squishy, small, and soft. Also, they have to be able to grab onto it with their hands.
Some favorites include:
- Sweet potato or other cooked root vegetables
- SMALL protein bits. (Tofu is good, or, if you are a meat-eating family, a small bit of chicken to suck on.)
Simply chop them up nice and small, give them to your little one at mealtime, and see what happens! As they’re still getting sustenance from milk right now, you don’t need to worry about how much—or little—they’re eating. It’s all about experimenting and getting used to new foods.
For more support, information, and advice on your baby led weaning journey, why not ask the mamas of Peanut?