So lets start this off with the most obvious question… What is baby led weaning? As described by Wikipedia Baby Led Weaning (Also known as BLW) is “a method of adding complementary foods to a baby’s diet of breastmilk or formula. A method of food progression, BLW facilitates the development of age appropriate oral motor control while maintaining eating as a positive, interactive experience”.
Now, what the hell does that mean? Simply put, its a way of introducing babies of the appropriate age to easily eaten finger foods. So instead of giving your baby strictly homemade or store bought baby foods and purees, you’re starting them out by offer things such as bits of bread, oatmeal, yogurts, fruits like bananas and grapes, and chunks of veggies and meats. They feed themselves these easy to grasp foods from the start.
I had no idea this was even a thing when I had my first child. All I knew was that babies normally started having foods introduced to them around 4-6 months old and that you did this by giving them puréed baby food from a jar. A lot of things have changed over the last 10 years or so and I’m actually pretty happy that I’ve gotten involved in so many mom boards and groups and have learned so much because my parenting style from my first to now has done a complete 180. One of the big changes being BLW.
Now the idea of giving a 6 month old baby a chunk of food may seem scary at first but trust me… it doesn’t have to be. I have only ever had one child choke on food and that was my oldest, who was started out on baby purees, when she was like 4 or 5 years old while she ate a Hardy’s Biscuit one morning for breakfast. I’m not saying that the purées are what caused that, obviously, but just letting you know that as long as it’s done correctly it’s perfectly safe. And if you are anxious about the thought of choking, I highly encourage you to look into infant CPR classes… the more prepared you are the less afraid you are.
HOW I GOT STARTED
When doing BLW, you want to start off just like you would with purées or baby other baby foods and only give the baby one food at a time to make sure that the baby doesn’t have any sort of food allergy. Also, and I think this goes without saying but let just play it safe, make sure that you aren’t just giving the baby food and walking away. Stay with the baby and observe them eating at all times to make sure there is no issue with choking or allergies or just that the baby isn’t having an issue with picking up the food. Those motor skills are still pretty underdeveloped here so it can be challenging for them when they are first starting out.
My last three kids were pretty much exclusively breastfed until they were 8 months. They really didn’t show any signs of being interested in food until then and honestly I just felt more comfortable with starting them on solids once they were a little older. I know some people choose not to feed their children anything other than breastmilk or formula until a year and others have been forced to start providing cereal to their babies even before 4 months. So, I suggest speaking with your child’s pediatrician to see what they recommend and watch for those queues that your baby may be ready to start eating real food. Kids are just like adults and don’t run on a specific time frame. They are all individuals and will let you know when they are ready. The AAP recommends starting infants on solids around 6 months of age though.
With my second daughter, we did end up having to start her very early on a little bit of cereal in her formula due to bad acid reflux. But when she was around 8 months of age she was started on solid foods. Things like scrambled eggs and bananas. I watched her closely those first few tries of food. I’ll fully admit that I was nervous about it. I felt prepared but it was kind of scary giving that little toothless kid her first foods.
We started off with soft foods.Scrambled eggs, Oatmeal, and bananas were her first foods. We slowly increased what she was eating, the combinations, and how often she was eating solids as she grew and became more used to eating food. After a while, it just became so natural that it was surprising that I’d ever been nervous about it. When we ate, she would get little bits of the food off of our plates and would eat right along with us. It was great.
When my third and then then 4th children came around, I knew without a doubt that I was going to be doing BLW with them as well. I’ve found it to be so much more convenient. It saves a ton of money because I’m not having to go out buying lots of extra things for just the baby eat. And I honestly think the babies have enjoyed it. They like getting to pick things up and put them in their mouths. It teaches them how to grasp different items and helps with hand eye coordination. Plus they end up eating whatever you are eating, so you don’t have to spend any extra time making and pureeing foods or take up any extra cabinet space storing extra jars and pouches.
If you’re even the slightest bit interested in BLW I encourage you to look into it further. Check out the BLW website. It’s got a ton of great information from how to get started to recipes. I’ve also compiled a Pinterest board full of information on the subject that you can check out here.
**Disclaimer** I am, in no way, a medical professional, so I urge you to please consult with your childs pediatrician before making any kinds of decisions on things that have to do with your childs health and safety.