What is baby led weaning?
Baby led weaning, sometimes referred to as BLW, simply means letting your baby feed him or herself. Like traditional weaning, it’s suitable from six months for most babies.
Many parents follow baby led weaning without even realising it – particularly with second or later children.
How to start with baby led weaning
It’s not as daunting or as intimidating as you may think. Simply offer your baby a selection of nutritious finger foods that are suitable for your baby’s age. Allowing your baby to join in at your family meal times is ideal. Cutting food into finger-length pieces is great as it provides a natural handle for them to use. Your baby will use their whole fist to hold their food and will then navigate it towards their mouth. At first, your baby may just play with the food, or suck on it, and may not swallow any of it – that’s is OK. It is all a learning experience. As your baby increases how much they are eating, the milk intake will decrease.
The benefits of baby led weaning
The following is an extract from BabyCenter
BLW gives babies the chance to explore foods for themselves. It means they can cope with different food textures from the beginning of eating solid foods.
Parents who have tried BLW are generally passionate about its benefits. They say their babies will eat anything and everything, which helps to take the worry out of starting solids. But although there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence about BLW, not much formal research has been done.
However, one study did find that babies who are allowed to feed themselves from the beginning of weaning are more likely to:
- join in with family mealtimes
- eat a wide range of family foods early on
Another study found that BLW encourages babies to choose healthier foods, which could protect against obesity in childhood.
We do know that, as long as your baby is ready, it’s important to give him foods with soft lumps for him to chew. Babies who are not given lumpy food until after they’re 10 months old, are more likely to reject the food. They may be less open to trying new textures and tastes as they grow.
BLW will save you preparation time, too. You won’t have to spend time making up purees.