Learning About Baby-Led Weaning

A few weeks ago I posted this picture on Instagram.

I’ve done my research & we are currently planning on going the Baby-Led Weaning route in terms of introducing solid foods to Brooks when he turns 6 months old {which is in a few short weeks!}. Today I wanted to share with you a bit of what I have learned from reading the book and I would love to know your thoughts or experiences in terms of baby’s transition to food.

Baby Led Weaning

A few of my notes from the book:

  • Baby-Led Weaning {BLW} is when you skip the rice cereal, skip the purees and make the transition to solid food by following your baby’s cues
  • At about 6 months of age, most babies are ready to join the family at the kitchen table and discover and explore foods themselves
  • BLW is all about letting your baby feed himself from the start
  • With BLW your baby decides what he wants to eat & how much he wants to eat. He feeds himself when he’s hungry, at his own pace, and learns to stop when he is full
  • The first solids – sometimes called complimentary foods – are not meant to take over from breast or formula milk, but to “compliment” it so the baby’s diet becomes more varied
  • Food is offered in pieces that are sizes and shapes that baby can handle – baby is encouraged to explore food as he is interested in it by picking it up with his hands
  • Baby is ready to start BLW when he can sit up on his own, with little or no support, reach out to grab things and take them to his mouth quickly, accurately and makes chewing movements
  • Babies who are allowed to feed themselves learn about the look, smell taste and texture of different foods and how different flavors work together; with spoon-feeding all the tastes are pureed into one
  • Advantages to BLW: baby is constantly learning, it’s cheaper, baby is a part of mealtimes, experiences real food, less complicated meals & prep, easier to eat out
  • Disadvantages to BLW: much messier
  • A baby’s motivation to put food in his mouth is curiosity and copying, not hunger.
  • For the first couple of months or so, solid food is all about learning -> Think about mealtime as playtime
  • Continue milk feedings on demands so baby’s solid foods add to the milk feedings, rather than replace them. Milk feedings will eventually be reduced gradually by baby in his own time
  • By waiting until 6 months to introduce solid foods, you help reduce your child’s risk of developing a food allergy

Baby-Led Weaning

Growing Skills -> Baby is first able to look at, reach for and grab food to bring to his mouth. He then explores it with his lips and tongue. Between 6-9 months baby learns to bite off a piece of food, then he learns to keep it in his mouth & control it with his tongue, then he learns to chew & eventually he learns to swallow. These skills don’t all happen at once, but over a period of time, with practice {given the opportunity}

BLW & Breast-Feeding -> Breast fed babies feed themselves from the start by scooping the breast into his mouth & letting go when he’s had enough. They control how much they take & how fast they feed. Breast-feeding used the muscles of the mouth in a different way {more similar to chewing} than those bottle-fed. The flavor of breast milk varies from each feeding depending on what the mother has eaten, so breast-fed babies are used to a variety of tastes.

How to Start BLW ->

  1. Ensure baby is supported in an upright position when she is experimenting with food – on your lap or in a high chair.
  2. Start by offering foods that are easy to pick up – thick sticks are easiest. Offer baby foods you are eating, so he feels included
  3. Offer a variety of foods – don’t overload at first but make sure you are offering a variety of tastes and textures each week that will provide a wide range of nutrition & continue to help develop his eating skills.
  4. Continue to offer baby breast or formula milk
  5. Discuss the introduction of solid foods with your pediatrician
  6. Explain how BLW works to anyone caring for your baby

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The book was a quick, easy and very informative read. These were just a few of my favorite tips & learnings from reading BLW & how I try to explain it to anyone who asks me about it.  I’ve also heard the BLW Cookbook is something worth checking out, so I might pick that up soon too!

While we have given Brooks little tastes of things here and there, we are excited to try out BLW for ourselves in just a few short weeks. I will be sure to do a recap/update post on our experience with it & how it worked for us, but that’s what we are planning on doing in terms of introducing solid foods.

BLW

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How did YOU introduce solids to your little one?

Any tips/tricks/words of wisdom or thoughts on BLW? I’d love to hear them if you do!

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4 Comments

  • Reply Heather C July 2, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Exciting times! I wanted to comment only because this was my original plan for our now 8 month daughter. We ended up doing purees and are still building up her “normal” foods over purees as she choked more than we ever expected (I know BLW says this is normal, but normal doesn’t make it less scary when you have to quickly remove the babe to knock the food out of them…so I realize part of my issue personally is my own fear of watching her choke again and again) & hasn’t completely conquered the pincher grasp, which was a surprise to us considering all the other ‘things’ she can do. My point is really, like any other part of parenting, don’t put any pressure on yourselves – it all works out in the long run 🙂 When we got into the thick of this around six months I couldn’t believe how much this argument felt like the BF vs Formula fight! :/ Best of luck, it’s so fun to go through all these new phases isn’t it?! Brooks is SO cute! 🙂

    • Reply Leslie July 7, 2014 at 9:12 am

      Thanks Heather! I am a little nervous for the gagging part, but I won’t know how he reacts and I react until I give him the chance to try, which he will have to do eventually! We will see what happens, I totally have an open mind about it all! Good luck with your little one!

  • Reply Steph July 2, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    I am admittedly not very familiar with Baby Led Weaning, but as a pediatric provider with a bun in the oven, my concern is introducing multiple foods all at once. I recommend to all of my parents to limit new foods to one at a time for 3-4 days in case there is any reaction like a rash or diarrhea. Otherwise you would have to get rid of all of the foods the child had that day if you don’t know what caused it. It can also take 10+ times trying a food before a baby gets a taste for it!

    • Reply Leslie July 7, 2014 at 9:10 am

      Thanks for the tip Steph! Totally taking allergies into consideration & trying everything out slow!

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