We’ve all seen pictures on social media of babies with food all around their mouths, or worse, absolutely everywhere! This isn’t just because the spoons are in the dishwasher. This is what we call baby led weaning. What exactly is baby led weaning?
Baby led weaning is moving a child from milk to solid foods with no in-between stage. That means that you don’t need to buy pots of baby food or throw all of your veggies into a blender in order to spoon feed your baby. Your baby will simply eat the same food as you (with a few exceptions) with their fingers.
This approach to solid foods doesn’t mean you should avoid purees at all costs. Some babies are ready for solid foods earlier than others, and don’t take to solids straight away. In order to start adding new flavors to their diet, you could give puree to a baby who doesn’t like solids and add solids bit by bit.
Don’t forget, baby led weaning isn’t actually about weaning them straight off milk! t’s about introducing solids alongside breastmilk or formula.
The scariest thing about baby led weaning is the risk of choking. I highly recommend every parent to learn basic baby CPR in case of an emergency, but that said, baby led weaning isn’t a high risk activity! Babies have a gag reflex which prevents things gong too far into their throat which they could choke on. This means that they might jag a little when they start solid food, but if you manage to stay calm then your baby won’t react, they deal with it themselves and can enjoy eating all by themselves in no time!
The second scariest thing about BLW is the mess! It goes without saying that baby led weaning shouldn’t be done in a room with a brand new carpet. It gets messy. Get a great bib, and make sure all surfaces and floors are wipe-able (eg. plastic highchair on a tiled floor).
When NOT to do BLW:
If you’re in a rush, if you’re stressed or if you’re unhappy, you’re baby will know and won’t react well. Similarly, if you have a tired, sick or unhappy,t his isn’t the moment to start BLW. You need time, you need to sit with your baby not only on choking-watch but also to encourage them and get them used to sitting and eating with adults. Encouragement does’t mean cheerleading either, and you shouldn’t put your baby under pressure to eat solids; you can sit them down and give them the food but they have to decide when they’re ready and go at their own pace.
Advantages of BLW:
- Baby can discover what he/she likes
- Baby knows and stops eating when they are full
- Baby will increase solid food intake and decrease milk intake, which means they wean themselves off milk by themselves
- Fine motor practice (hand to mouth action) leads to good dexterity
- Good eating habits (sitting nicely at the table, stopping when they’re full)
Soft fruits and vegetables are a great way to start, and after that you can buy a baby led weaning book or just use your common sense! Your baby doesn’t have a full set of teeth to chew with, so food must be soft on their gums. No added sugar or salt are necessary, and you should wait until your baby is 6 months old before starting, si that their digestive system isn’t underdeveloped or sensitive to certain foods. If ever your baby has a bad reaction to a certain food, as long as it isn’t a medical emergency you could try it again later on, when they’re more developed and their tastes have changed.
If you’ve tried BLW leave a comment below to let us know how it worked out for you.