Ready to start baby-led weaning (called BLW for short or referred to as ‘baby led feeding’)? Here’s some advice and tips from a mom who knows how to do baby-led weaning the right way.
What IS “Baby Led Weaning”
When one hears the term “baby led weaning“, it is common to think it is a technique to wean their child off the bottle or off breastfeeding.
Baby led weaning should actually be called baby led FEEDING since it is a technique used to introduce solid foods into their baby’s diet.
Baby led weaning is based on the idea that by letting babies feed themselves, they will eat when they are hungry and stop eating when they are full. This helps develop healthy eating habits, perhaps prevent obesity and over-eating later in life, AND exposure your child to many foods and food textures.
Baby led weaning also has social positives as well – since your baby is eating at the table with the family AND eating what the family is eating, this helps include your baby in family routine.
Let’s talk about baby led weaning… when you should start, what finger foods to offer as first foods when introducing solid foods, meals, baby led weaning recipes, tips, advice, and baby led weaning Dos and Don’ts.
- What IS “Baby Led Weaning”
- When To Start Baby Led Weaning
- Baby Led Weaning First Foods
- Starting Baby Led Weaning Tips and Ideas
- Baby Led Weaning Books
- #1 Baby Led Weaning Tip:
Pregnancy made me become obsessed with every little detail of my son’s upbringing. Other than eating ice from our countertop ice maker like CRAZY, I looked into everything including baby led weaning just so I could make sure I was doing the best by my son. I learned a lot but nothing could prepare me for the reality (especially our bout with COLIC! Ack!). This article is my experience of baby led weaning and I hope it helps.
With weaning, I decided that I wanted to let my son wean himself. I didn’t really understand the point of forcing him to eat or worrying if he wasn’t eating a lot but I did have my moments. My son is currently 2 and a half and still breastfed. He also has a huge appetite!
When To Start Baby Led Weaning
I first start introducing solids around 6 months. I had read that anything before this would not be a good idea. He enjoyed melon, bananas, avocado and sweet potatoes. This wasn’t a regular thing though. Most of the time he was uninterested in food but when he did want it he ate quite a bit. As he got a bit older, he tried new things and enjoyed biting into plums, bananas and soft fruits on his own. I think this was around a year when he started to eat these things. Again this wasn’t a regular occurrence. He was not having consistent meals by 1, in fact he was still 99% breastfed.
Baby Led Weaning Food Schedule
Not Eating Enough?
So I did some research, checked out other people’s experiences via forums.
I found out that many babies are like this.
If left to their own device they won’t eat huge amounts or regularly until well into their second year.
So I relaxed and around 14 months my son’s appetite really grew and he started to eat more and more.
Some days he would even have 3 meals but his nursing did not really decrease much.
What to cook that your baby can eat AND the whole family will eat?
Here are 130 baby led weaning recipes that everyone will eat.
Breastfeeding and Baby Led Weaning
He is now 2 and a half and has 3 meals everyday nearly. Some days he is a little needy and prefers to have more breast, while others he will graze all day. He is very happy, full of energy and a healthy little boy who hasn’t been ill at all. I have also found that his nursing has decreased to the point where now he will have a huge morning feed and then generally be OK during the day unless he gets upset. He also has a habit of trying to go for breastmilk when he is thirsty but I have encouraged him to drink water instead and he is often happy with that. If he isn’t happy with that then he will have breast.
If I could give some tips to other mothers on baby led weaning, I would say that my first tip would be not to worry too much. Your baby really does know what they are doing. Some days they may eat lots and lots, others they may not eat that much. Try not to be too hung up on how much they have eaten, although I must say that is more difficult to do than to say! If you are breastfeeding its much easier to relax about their eating habits because you know that they are getting lots of lovely nutrients from you still. I am not sure how this would work though with bottle fed babies so can’t really give any guidance on that.
The best thing about baby led weaning is that it’s easy. I did have moments where I let people get to me and then started thinking he should be eating more at this age etc, but that soon went away. Trusting in your baby and yourself is the hardest part of the whole thing but is well worth it and very fulfilling. Do what you think is right and everything will work out.
Baby Led Weaning First Foods
Baby Led Weaning Recipes
Starting Baby Led Weaning Tips and Ideas
Baby Led Weaning Food Ideas
I like the baby led weaning food idea in the picture above. Simply take a yogurt cup, put a popsicle stick in it and freeze it. I don’t know if I’d use the stick tho, might opt for a baby safety feeding spoon or something a bit safer than a stick.
Now, let’s get into the Dos and Don’ts of baby led weaning…
The Dos and Don’ts of Baby Led Weaning
Baby led weaning can be a rewarding and easy way to help your child establish solids on their own. Baby led weaning is all about taking cues from your baby and letting them go at their own pace in regards to moving on to solids from breast milk.
This way of introducing solids is very straight forward but there are some things you should consider when taking this approach. Below are some guidelines to help you ensure this way of working with your child is safe.
Baby Led Weaning Tips:
- Let your baby have the opportunity to participate whenever someone is eating. As soon as your child shows an interest, eating around them and letting them be a part of it is a great way to encourage feeding and to let them choose when they want to participate. I remember my son at 7 months grabbing my banana out my hand and chomping on it.
- While your baby is experimenting with food, make sure that he or she is upright. Most parents sit their baby on their lap facing the table as this is the easiest way to eat at the same time.
- Offer a variety of foods to give them different experiences and let them decide on the flavors and textures they like. If your child rejects some flavors, you should still try them at a later date because they may change their mind. My son changed his mind on quite a few things once we got around to trying them out again.
- You can also offer water from a cup too but this isn’t a necessity especially if your child is breastfed as this is enough fluid wise and may be relied on for a long time to come.
- Allow your child to continue to breastfeed whenever they want to. Weaning is a gradual process and can be very gradual for some children. Many children rely on breast milk fairly predominantly well into their second and third year. His or her breastfeeding pattern will change, however, as more and more solids are eaten and introduced.
- And be forewarned: Baby led weaning is MESSY so be sure you have a good cordless vacuum close by.
Baby Led Weaning DON’Ts
Don’t try to hurry your baby. Let him choose the pace and direct you. Try to avoid helping him as well and just let him get on with it. He knows best. Weaning is a very gradual process, so just go with the flow and don’t worry if your child is disinterested for a long while or has days when they are and days or weeks when they aren’t.
Your child may get through a quarter of a banana or piece of fruit and then not want anymore. Don’t expect them to finish what they have started!
Try to avoid foods that could be potentially dangerous particular foods that are associated with allergies like nuts. These can be given to babies when they are a lot older and are able to communicate if something is wrong.
Don’t offer processed foods. Try to stick with whole foods at first.
Regardless of any of the dos and don’t, make sure that you enjoy the process. It can be hard to relax and trust your child because the world around us seems to do the opposite. However it is extremely rewarding for both you and your baby and will show you how easy it is to let a child get on with it without their parents complicating the issue.
Baby Led Weaning Books
#1 Baby Led Weaning Tip:
Aside from making sure your baby is safe at all times, the other thing that needs to be said about baby led weaning is this…
Be sure to invest in at least one of these types of bibs – it makes clean-up from baby led weaning MUCH easier!
And the suction bowls are REALLY helpful, too!