I first came across the Baby Led Weaning concept when our first daughter Lucy was 4-5 months old. I was so excited at the prospect of her beginning solids that I decided to do a bit of research to see what it would entail on my part and what I would need to get started once she was ready.
Baby Led Weaning is really just forgetting about purees and spoon feeding and letting your baby feed him/her self. It means that from the very first time your baby experiences solids, they will in fact BE solids.
BLW allows a child to control their intake of solid food as they become accustomed to chewing and swallowing. As they get better at chewing and eating their food, they will be getting more food into them and will naturally wean themselves off of the breast/bottle one feed at a time. If your baby was premature or if there are major food allergies in your family you should speak to your family doctor before attempting this.
Baby Led Weaning will require a few things from you as a parent. Firstly, patience. Your baby is not going to start eating everything in front of them right off the bat. The first few months are really about discovery and play. They will spend lots of time in their high chair just playing with food, licking it, handling it and staring at it. It took Lucy until she was about 9 months old before she discovered, “If I eat this, it will fill my belly” Then it was on!
The next thing you are going to need to do is relax. If you are someone who needs to be in control and know when your baby will eat, how much they will eat and what they will eat…this may not be for you. This approach is all about them deciding what and how much they will eat. They will be eating meals with the family, trying new things and going at their own pace. It can seem a little scary in the moment, but with Lucy being almost 2 now, I can attest to the fact that they do eventually start ‘eat eating’ their food and pack on the little pounds that we, as mothers crave to see them gain.
Children will not purposely starve themselves, if they are hungry, they will eat. When they are done, they will stop. We don’t need to control how much food is going into their bodies. Just because they only ate half of what we were hoping to give them doesn’t mean that there is something wrong, maybe they are full, maybe teething and just not interested. Baby Led Weaning gives your baby a chance to figure out when he/she is full and to listen to those signals in their body. My Lucy is a healthy weight, and even when eating a treat like ice cream or a smoothie, will leave it unfinished if she has had enough. Children who haven’t learned their bodies signals of being full, may not.
One of the main concerns of new-to-BLW parents is the gagging/choking thing. You can read Gill Rapley’s guidelines for BLW here which include info on that. I won’t lie, there is a little gagging in the beginning but they quickly get past that. We never had a single choking experience with Lucy and hope it will be the same with Abigail.
Lastly, you will need to have a ton of fun! Introducing food to our children is one of the greatest things we get to do as parents. Food is a wonderful thing!! Offer a variety of colours, textures, tastes, smells..they are sure to develop a healthy love of food. Doing BLW forced us to look at our diet and see that we weren’t eating nearly as much fresh fruit and vegetables as we should be. If they are going to eat what we eat, it should be healthy right?
Abigail is just over 5 months old now and very ready to get started with solids. She can almost sit up on her own and she will reach onto my plate and bring food to her mouth. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for some great Baby Led Weaning Abigail adventures and join us here for some good recipes and tips! In the meantime, go buy/order this book! It is a great resource to have on hand and gave me a lot of encouragement when I was just starting out.