Baby led Weaning

Baby Led Weaning

What is BLW? Baby led weaning or BLW is a method of introducing foods/solids to babies without going through the baby puree stage but instead allowing babies to feed themselves with none pureed foods right from start. So in short, Baby led weaning is Baby Led Weaning really just letting your baby self-feed. Babies are allowed to feed themselves on a wide variety of none pureed foods (pieces of fruit, cooked vegetables, chicken...) that they can pick with their own little hands and lead the food to their mouths.

The start is usually very tricky as babies try really hard to get to grips with picking up pieces of food and leading it to their mouths. A lot of the food will end up on the floor, on the ceiling and some of it will even find its way into your hair

At the beginning of the BLW process, feeding will only mean 'let's play goo up' for a while but as time goes by your baby will learn to pick up food and eat with very little difficulties.

Introducing Solids The Baby Led Way

The world health organization recommends exclusively breast feeding a baby for the first 6 months after which solids can slowly be introduced. At 6 months of age babies (bear in mind that all babies are individual and develop at different rates) are usually able to pick food up or almost anything they can get their little hands on and lead it to their mouth. It is at this stage that baby led weaning can be introduced.

Many parents naturally offer their babies some pieces of food from their plates at dinner time without thinking much about it (baby self-feeds). And it is also very common for parents with more than one child to allow their baby to pick food from their plates at dinner time (mind the salt). Baby-led weaning lets your baby learn to eat with the rest of the family right from start.

Even before your baby learns the art of picking up food using his thumb and index finger, you can still cut up his food into age appropriate pieces that he can hold in his hands. Baby led weaning allows babies to explore food at a different level and although the topic of Baby Led Weaning still sparks debates in the parenting world, it is increasingly becoming very popular and many parents swear by its many benefits.

Some BLW Tips

  • Make sure that all food pieces are cut into age appropriate sizes.
  • The food pieces must also be big enough for a baby to grasp with no problems.
  • Babies should never be left alone when eating.
  • Keep an eye on the pieces being eaten and remove any dodgy sized ones.
  • Make sure that your baby is sitting safely in a high chair or on your lap when eating and not crawling around with food to pieces 'to go'. Click here for more Baby-Led Weaning Tips.

Baby Led Weaning - When to Start?

There are a few signs that will indicate your baby's readiness for BLW and these include...

Your Baby's age - Your baby has to be at least 6 months old before any solids can be introduced and this is simply because a baby's digestive system is not developed enough to handle solids before the age of 6 months.

Now, bear in mind that all babies develop at different rates and that means that some babies are already introduced to solids between the ages of 4-5 months, so consult your child's pediatrician before introducing solids to your baby.

Sitting - Your baby must be able to sit up straight in order to minimize the risk of choking. You can sit your baby in a comfortable high chair or on your lap (be prepared for a big mess and lots of fun).

Fine motor skills - When your baby has started to develop his fine motor skills, he can pick food up with his little hands and lead it to his mouth. A baby's fine motor skills (reaches for toys, shakes baby rattle, grasps and release objects ) are usually developed at around 6 months of age, perfect age for introducing solids.

Interest in Food - Your baby showing interest in food at the table when you eat is also a good indicator of him being ready for solids.

With Baby led weaning, a baby learns right from start just how fun food is. The the foods texture, the colors, the exploring and tasting, it all encourages for a good appetite, good eating habits and less picky eating. However, if you feel that your baby is not getting enough nutrients from baby-led weaning, then try and include some pureed meals and spoon-fed him. After all, a baby's health comes above all else BLW or not.

Learn More and Resources

Gill Replay and Tracey Murkett - Baby-led Weaning