Our Experience of Baby Led Weaning
Baby Led Weaning, or BLW, is a phrase coined by Gill Rapley and is the process of letting your baby feed themselves instead of spoon feeding them baby purees.
It’s something I had heard about so much during my first pregnancy and I loved the sound of the benefits of it.
Your baby is introduced to finger food, similar to the food you are eating. They learn to pick it up and practice their pincer grip and discover new flavours and textures all by themselves.
It’s so much fun to watch them learn to pick up food, play with it, learn to chew it and feed themselves. As you might expect, it’s also quite a messy affair – but that’s half the fun!
You might decide that you want to go 100% with baby led weaning or you might combine it with spoon feeding. It’s great to have the option of both and find out what works for your baby.
If you’re thinking about doing baby led weaning with your baby, here are some of the foods we tried at first with both of our babies:
1. Fingers of Cooked Vegetables
Simply cut the vegetables into fingers so that your baby is able to grab on to them with a fist and bring them up to their mouth. Of course wait for them to cool down before you let them at it!
Cut the banana into thirds, then peel the skin off the top half of the piece so that your baby can hold the bottom without it slipping away and gnaw at the top.
3. Buttered Bread or Toast
Cut the buttered bread or toast into ‘soldiers’ so that your baby can grab on to the sticks easily and bring them up to their mouth to lick at and bite.
We gave our babies almost everything that we ate ourselves from very early on. This included the above as well as (penne or pasta shapes rather than spaghetti is easier!), rice, pieces of cooked chicken, grapes cut in half etc.
The meals we eat are perfect for babies too: pasta bolognese, stir-fry, casseroles and salads.
We have found the benefits of BLW endless, the main ones being that there is no need to prepare separate food for your baby, they learn to use their pincer grip from early on and develop fine motor skills and they learn to chew their food rather than just swallow.
It’s also great that family meal times are a real family affair where everyone sits down together and eats the same food at the same time.
Another great benefit is that there is no need for one parent to spoon feed the baby while their meal goes cold!
The biggest drawback for some is the mess. You need to prepare yourselves in the early weeks for pretty much all of the food to end up on the floor.
We used to put a large clean garbage bag down before mealtimes which kept the floor clean and meant the food that fell down didn’t get dirty so we’d pop it back on the high chair tray for the next round! No food is wasted in our house if we can help it.
Despite the mess, we found that BLW made mealtimes so much fun and a real family occasion from the get go.
The mess and the waste quickly diminish as the weeks go on and you’ll soon see your baby feeding themselves like a pro in no time.
Even before we introduced solids, we were conscious of any potential chance of choking and armed ourselves with a plan of what to do if that happened and all parents must do the same.
I would credit BLW with the fact that our two children eat anything put in front of them. They have had such variety from when they were 6 months old and they love food. It makes our life so easy.
Introducing solids to babies by doing baby led weaning or pureeing food is your choice as a parent and I hope the above gives you some ideas (food for thought!) on the different options you have.
Have you tried baby led weaning with your baby?