As a first time mom, the learning curve is steep. I wish I had saved all of the questions I typed into Google at 2 am. While some of the questions were important and sound, most were somewhat out there, but what do you expect when you haven’t slept more than a few hours in months. As the time approached to introduce solids to my little one I began my midnight research.
I was convinced that when I first had my precious little cherub that I would be making my own pureed baby food at home, wishful first-time mom thinking. That was until a wise mama friend shared that there was another option called Baby Led Weaning (BLW). I really consider this mama to be a rock star, so when she suggested BLW, I knew I had to check it out. Luckily, not sleeping allowed for many hours of online research and after reading books and websites, I was convinced this was how I wanted to introduce solids to my baby. Now I just had to convince my husband this was the way to go.
I will preempt my list this by saying, BLW may not be for everyone. However, I wanted to share another approach to introducing solids to your baby in case you were like me and had no idea there was even another option to just spoon feeding. This is merely an introduction to BLW, so please research more before beginning solid foods with your little one. I am not an expert in this subject area, but there are plenty of BLW books and online resources available that can help you make the most informed decision for you and your family.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
Baby Led Weaning is the idea of introducing solid foods that you are eating as a family to your baby, if we have chicken and rice for dinner, so does baby! However, food is cut up in a specific way, depending on your baby’s age, for safety reasons and to help promote self-feeding as well as exploration. Food should be cut into finger-length pieces until your baby has mastered chewing, which is typically around 9 months. Food is introduced once the baby is ready, around 6 months old, and over the course of 6 months, your baby will have weaned from their diet consisting mostly of breast milk or formula to table food with breast milk or formula as a supplement.
BLW is a big believer in allowing your baby to take the lead on what they are eating and how much they eat. There are days when your baby may want to eat everything and then there are other days when they only take a few bites. This is okay as it is allowing your baby to develop a sense of when they are hungry and when they are satiated.
Your baby will be eating what you are eating, which means you will want to have a varied, low sodium diet to help promote healthy eating. Some foods still need to be avoided like honey, whole nuts, popcorn and peanut butter on a spoon as they could cause botulism or are a choking hazard.
When is your baby ready to start BLW?
- Must be able to sit unassisted
- Must be at least 6 months old or have an adjusted age of 6 months for preemies
- Shows interest in food
- Loss of tongue thrust reflex
Why do I love BLW?
- It’s fun
- Watching my baby’s face as she squeezed avocado between her fingers and then devour it was such a priceless experience. Almost as priceless as when a stranger thought I was feeding my baby licorice, when in fact it was a red pepper. Oddly enough, he seemed more okay when he thought it was licorice.
- It’s convenient
- We can go out to eat, and our little one can join right in! She also eats whatever we are eating for any meal, hello less meal prep!
- We are healthier as a family
- I have always considered myself a semi-healthy eater, but once we started BLW our meal choices have become much healthier, and I credit a lot of my baby weight loss to our healthier diet.
- Helps creates a positive attitude towards food and appetite control
- This is honestly one of the main reasons I went with BLW. I have struggled with food issues in the past, and I really wanted to make sure that my daughter developed a healthy attitude toward food.
- Having a greater eater- Read NOT PICKY
- This was HUGE for me. As a former preschool teacher, I have seen some picky eaters, and I was really hoping to avoid pickiness if at all possible. When I heard that BLW helped babies develop into less picky eaters, I was entirely on board.
What are some drawbacks to BLW?
- It’s messier
- I am a neat freak, so this was a challenge for me for sure! I reframed my thinking about the mess, knowing that it was all in the name of exploration, learning and discovering. Seeing my little one enjoy her meal was worth cleaning up the mess on the floor.
- Family/friends may not be supportive
- As a parent, you will find that even if you have thoroughly researched the subject, others in your life may not have and new and unknown can be very scary. It will be a time to educate those around you.
- This was super scary for me to be honest, but after a lot of online support and actually seeing my daughter eat and work through any gagging episodes, I quickly overcame this fear.
There have been many things along my parenting journey that I feel like I probably could have done differently or better, but I have not regretted my decision to do BLW with my little one, and quite honestly I am proud to have made a decision that has really worked for our family!