Oh my gosh! Remy just had his first meal of solids tonight and I am soooo proud of him! I was super anxious at first, but he did so well and it’s so amazing to watch him explore his food. However, instead of doing traditional weaning with pureed foods, we’re trying out baby led weaning (BLW for short).
What is it? I’m so glad you asked! BLW has numerous benefits and it has been around for as long as humans have existed – it just never had a name. Think about it: before pureed foods were invented, how did babies eat solids? Not only does Remy eat the exact same foods as us, but it improves his hand dexterity and introduces him to different colors, textures and tastes. Remy is in control of what to pick up next and also how much to eat. Babies who are BLW tend to be less picky as they grow up (crosses fingers)! Did I pique your interest? Let’s delve into the world of BLW and how it may work for your family!
1. What is Baby Led Weaning?
Baby led weaning is the process of starting solids in a baby, but not with the traditional pureed foods. Instead, at the very beginning, you introduce baby to the same exact foods that you are eating , just appropriately cut to the right size.
2. Who is Baby Led Weaning for?
BLW is for babies who have the following signs of readiness:
Is at least 6 months of age – The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and World Health Organization recommend the introduction of solids around 6 months of age
Can sit up unassisted for at least a minute – Sitting up without support shows that the baby is developmentally able to control themselves and can prevent choking
Is showing an interest in food – this is obvious! It would be hard to start solids in a baby uninterested in food. 🙂
No longer has the tongue thrust reflex – Doesn’t automatically push solid food out of the mouth with the tongue
Is developing the pincer grasp – The pincer grasp is where the baby can pick up food or other objects between their thumb and forefinger. It doesn’t need to be fully developed or mastered when you start BLW and BLW can actually help develop it as they try to start picking up smaller pieces of food, like cereal or peas.
3. What are the advantages of Baby Led Weaning over pureed foods?
BLW has numerous benefits and makes total sense when you think about it!
Baby is in control – There is no spoon feeding here! You lay everything out on the tray and your baby makes the decision of what to pick and when. They also decide when they’re done with a piece of food and move onto something different. This builds independence and confidence in your little one.
Develops important social and developmental skills – Since your baby is the one picking up and feeding themselves, they are realizing how to move their hand from tray to mouth. They are also building on the skill of how to hold items – how to hold an avocado so it doesn’t squish in their hands or how to hold a piece of bread in his hand so there’s enough peeking out of his fist for him to chew on.
Baby learns healthy eating habits – By eating what the family eats at the same time the family eats, your baby is learning from you. They are learning about social interaction around the dinner table. They are learning about eye contact. Your little one is also learning about a wholesome meal with a protein, vegetable, fruit, and starches. In addition, they learn the important skill of stopping when they are full. With pureed foods, finishing a jar is the signal of when mealtime is over.
The whole family eats healthier – Ever since Remy has started eating solids, I’ve noticed that I am paying soo much more attention at the grocery store reading labels and what I’m cooking at home. I’m cognizant about the amount of seasoning I’m adding and making sure that each meal is very wholesome. Now that you’re feeding a little one the same foods that you’re eating, you’ll probably start eating healthier too!
So much easier and less stressful – With BLW, there’s no preparing or pureeing foods separately and there’s no stress in having the baby finish an entire pureed jar! BLW is as easy as preparing what your family is normally eating, cutting the baby’s portion a little differently, gathering around the dining table, and eating together while talking and laughing!
4. What are the cons of Baby Led Weaning?
I will admit that there are some cons to BLW. There are feelings of anxiety when starting solids in your little one and BLW is no exception! What if they choke? What if they’re not eating much? These are all valid questions and have run through my mind as well. Be sure to check out my BLW FAQ blog post (coming soon!) for answers to these questions and many more that you may have.
One con of BLW is the mess. But then again, pureed foods are messy too as you’re trying to fight your baby over spoonfuls of mashed peas or carrots. However, I have taken the stance on “embracing the mess”. Your little one doesn’t know what a mess is. All they are doing is exploring their food. They’re exploring how different it is to handle a piece of chicken versus a spaghetti noodle. They’re learning about temperatures and textures. So embrace it!
5. How can I start Baby Led Weaning with my family?
First, make sure that your son or daughter are showing the signs of BLW readiness (#2). Ensure that you know the difference between gagging and choking. This should be done for starting any kind of solids. Then let all family and caregivers know! Then just dive right in! There are no first foods with BLW. The only thing babies under one year of age cannot have is honey, raw or cooked, due to risk of botulism. Other than that, serve the baby what you’re eating at the exact same time that you eat, cutting everything into finger-sized shapes. Since solids only complement breastmilk or formula in the first year, be sure to offer solids 30-60 minutes AFTER breastmilk/formula. And have fun!
6. Where can I find more info?
I am by no means an expert on BLW – I’m just sharing what I have learned about BLW through my own research! But here’s some great resources to supplement this blog post!
- Baby Led Weaning for Beginners Facebook Group
What do you think of BLW? I would love to hear your thoughts and if you have done BLW or considering it!
Here are some more articles on baby-led weaning that you might like!