AsAs a new parent there is SO much to learn. I will be the first to admit that going into this life change, I didn’t expect it to be as overwhelming as it was. We didn’t do much preparation leading up to it, including reading. I had several apps that gave me tips daily and I did a lot of talking with my doctor as well as a couple of classes at the local hospital, but I figured a lot of stuff you figure out on the fly. That said, there were a lot of things that I’d hear about over a group on Facebook or a friend mentioning something that I would be like ‘what?’. One of those being baby led weaning (BLW). Since learning what it was, we actually transitioned Rowan to eating more BLW and have found it is easier and works better for our family than traditional baby food. Since it was such an eye opening experience for us, I wanted to share it with you, so this post is all about baby led weaning.

First of all, how do we know baby is ready to start solids?

This is a good place to start because many parents start solids prior to the suggested 6 months. If you are considering it, do your research. The World Health Organization, American Association of Pediatrics, Health Canada, as well as many other countries’ health governing agencies recommend 6 months of age.

Baby eating, baby led weaning foods

Signs of readiness

  1. Baby can hold their head up unsupported.
  2. Your baby can sit upright, they may still need a little support, but a high chair can be an aid.
  3. Your little one is able to signal they are full by pulling away, pushing food away, or shaking their head.
  4. Baby can bring food to their mouth. When kids get to the point of putting stuff in their mouthes, this is a sign they are ready to eat.
  5. Your baby has grown past the tongue thrust reflex that is there to protect them from choking as babies

What is Baby Led Weaning?

The easy definition for baby led weaning is that baby feeds themselves from the beginning. You don’t give baby purees and other store bought baby foods. This gives baby the ability to regulate speed they eat, how much they eat, what they put in their mouthes, and control of how much they eat of different foods and textures. It also gives baby the opportunity to join the family at meal times and participate in eating as the rest of the family eats.

Benefits of Baby Led Weaning

  1. Baby gets to explore new textures, sizes, shapes, and flavors on their own. There is thought that this will help baby later in life with healthier food choices.
  2. They can self-regulate. If you force feed your child, research thinks this could lead to higher risk of overweight or obesity in later life.
  3. It’s helpful to build fine motor skills. Hand-eye coordination improves as they learn to bring food to their mouth, and it can help them learn to use their fingers (develop the pincer grab).

How to start BLW?

Make sure baby has a safe place to sit

Either a high chair or parent’s lap are safe options, but they should be supported and able to sit up on their own at this point (or with some support like the back of high chair).

Start slow

You should only start by offering solids one time per day. As baby gets better at eating and shows more desire to eat, increase the frequency to two and three times per day.Lentil tortilla Soup

Select safe and appropriate foods

Whether you want to start with simple foods like chopped up avocado, steamed carrots, small cubed (cooked) sweet potato, or chopped strawberries, or you can go with what you are eating if it’s soft and not a choking hazard. Some examples of these include spaghetti or mashed potatoes.

Foods to avoid

  • sugary foods
  • foods high in salt
  • HONEY – there is a risk of botulism in baby’s underdeveloped guts, mature adult gut can handle it
  • Animal milks
  • undercooked meats and eggs
  • mold-ripened cheese (bleu cheese, brie, etc.)
  • caffeine
  • high mercury fish

blue and pink cupcakes

Other Tips

Invest in bibs. Babies feeding themselves is a messy experience. Feeding them in the nude with a bib can make cleaning easier. Also get a mat or tablecloth to put under their high chair to make for easier clean up.

Take an infant CPR class. Getting trained on safety tactics is good for the potential of a baby choking. There is a difference between gagging and choking, and knowing how and when to react is important.

Be present and enjoy this time. Take pictures and try to have fun with baby as they are learning to eat. Your attitude toward food and the experience will shape baby’s attitude toward food.

Be prepared for changing bowel movements. As baby gets more solids and their gut gets used to digesting these foods, their poo will start to change.

Related Posts

First Solids for Baby
Baby Starting Solids FAQ
Help with Picky Eaters

There is a lot of information out there on BLW and how to start, best foods, recipes, and safe practices. Do your research if this is a route you choose to go, but this guide all about baby led weaning is a good introduction and overview of BLW. I’d love to hear your experience if you’ve used this method, or any questions you have in the comments below!

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