Full disclosure: your baby’s introduction to solid foods may be chaotic. Porridge, pumpkin, and potatoes will redecorate your floor and walls. A beautiful mess awaits. So when do you start baby-led weaning?
One thing to think about: will you start with purees or with baby-led weaning? If you go with the latter, how do you know when to start baby-led weaning? Are there signs to watch out for?
Let’s dive in.
In this article: 📝
- How early can I start baby-led weaning?
- Can I start BLW at 4 months?
- How do I know when my baby is ready for baby-led weaning?
How early can I start baby-led weaning?
The term baby-led weaning (BLW) was coined by Gill Rapley in 2005. Also called auto-weaning, it’s risen in popularity over the years.
As the name suggests, BLW is made of two parts:
Yep, they get to be in charge of how this all happens.
In contrast to what is known as the traditional method, where parents spoon-feed their babies soft purees, BLW involves offering chopped or minced foods to your little one—and then letting them decide how much and how quickly they would like to eat.
This process doesn’t happen all at once.
As you slowly reduce breast and/or formula feeding, you increase the amount of solid foods in their diet.
By starting with a new food every day or every few days, you give them the opportunity to get used to new tastes and textures while you monitor for any potential allergies that might spring up.
One of the key benefits of this approach is that it may allow babies to more easily respond to feelings of being full—what is known as a “satiety response”.
And this could be associated with healthy weight gain.
There are conflicting reports on the benefits for you.
Some researchers suggest BLW can make the weaning process easier on you.
Others say that there are so many other factors, such as cultural practices and lifestyle, that go into whether or not this is an appropriate feeding method.
Bottom line? If it works for you—great. If it doesn’t, there are other ways.
So when can you start BLW? Are there BLW signs of readiness to watch out for? Let’s take a look.
Can I start BLW at 4 months?
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding until your baby reaches six months of age.
Breast milk is perfectly formulated with the right nutrition to help your baby grow and develop in the first few months of life.
And if exclusive breastfeeding is not possible, formula makes a great substitute.
By the time they hit six months, it might be time to expand the menu with what is called complementary feeding.
The WHO suggests continuing to offer breast milk or formula on demand until your baby is two years old, while slowly introducing them to solid foods.
How do I know when my baby is ready for baby-led weaning?
In the spirit of baby being in the driving seat, they should give you some pretty solid clues they are ready for the BLW adventure. Here’s what to watch out for.
- Sit up on their own.
- Hold their head upright.
- Reach out for things.
- Grab onto objects.
- Transport food from hand to mouth.
- Chew without guidance.
And just like that—your baby wants to take on a leadership position in your household before they can even walk.
They’re about to steer this ship into the land of solid foods. Gotta love the ambition.
Know that there’s no one way to do this. You find the method and timing that works for you and your family.
Some rough guides?
- Food pieces should be about the size and shape of your pinkie finger or smaller.
- Mix up flavors and textures to introduce your baby to the rainbow of food options available.
Some good foods to start with are:
- 🥭Fruit slices. Mango, banana, and melon are good intro foods.
- 🥑Avocado chunks.
- 🥬Green veggies. Broccoli, leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower all work well.
- 🍠Sweet potato.
- 🍗Chicken pieces.
There doesn’t seem to be any evidence to suggest that baby-led weaning comes with more of a choking risk than the traditional spoon-feeding approach—but it’s always a good idea to watch your baby closely as they learn to do this eating thing.
And if you’re after some fresh, frozen healthy baby meals directly to your door, you can get 25% off your first 3 boxes of Mamamade purees with the code PEANUT25. Shop here.
You can start with one meal a day, or give your baby a taste of your food at all three meals, if they’re awake for them.
By about nine months of age, most babies will probably be “eating” three meals a day.
If you need support along the way, join us on Peanut. Good luck, mama.
🥣 Read more:
20 Breastfeeding Tips for New Mamas
How to Stop Breastfeeding (When You’re Ready)
Your Essential Formula Feeding Guide
A Nifty Guide to Bottle Feeding
What is Paced Bottle Feeding?
Newborn Baby Feeding Schedule Ideas
What is Cluster Feeding? The Ultimate Guide
17 Toddler Meal Ideas
The Best First Finger Foods for Baby
What are the Best First Foods for a Baby?
When Can Babies Eat Baby Food?