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Before I had my first baby in 2012, the words “baby led weaning” were totally foreign to me. I just knew I wanted to feed my child healthy foods, didn’t want to spend a ton of money on organic baby food, and didn’t really have the time to make a ton of baby food and then spoon feed. I breastfed each baby for a year and with each of the three, we started baby led weaning (BLW) at 6 months. Let me also let the record show that I’m NOT a doctor or health care professional, just a mom of 3 kids. Here’s what BLW is, why you should care, and how it can make your life easier and (maybe!) make your baby a better eater:
WHAT IS BABY LED WEANING
Basically, just letting baby self feed from the start of solids versus spoon-feeding baby pureed foods.
But Why would you do that?
The research I found interesting is that all throughout history, BLW is how babies learned to eat. There was no baby food 150 years ago. Also, very small (read: anecdotal & not scientifically sound) studies have shown that BLW babies try a wider variety of foods and nutrients consumed and also are able to regulate their feelings of fullness much earlier than spoon-fed babies. Here’s an official source compiling the data.
How do you start?
We skipped rice cereal all together. There’s not a lot of nutrition there and I’m sure it doesn’t taste great – who wants to sit there spoon feeding their baby something they aren’t really enjoying? We started all three kids with big slices of ripe avocado while they were sitting in a highchair.
When do you start?
Generally, babies are ready for BLW at 6 months. These are the signs of readiness:
- baby can sit well without support
- baby is pulling food to his/her mouth when given the opportunity (ie guiding your sandwich into her mouth when she’s on your lap at lunchtime)
- baby is ready & willing to chew – mine always make chewing motions with their mouths
What do you need?
Honestly, just a good highchair that’s easy to wipe clean, because it will get MESSY. But here are a few other things that make BLW so much easier:
- I use & love the Antilop from IKEA but if you don’t have an IKEA near you, this is a great alternative & it’s under $50.
- This makes the pieces of food so much easier to grab and hold.
- This makes it easier to cut foods like apples and potatoes into wedges
- This is a great little steamer – most stuff is ready in under 10 minutes
- These are great to keep in the diaper bag for BLW on-the-go
Other things to know:
- Skip bowls and dishes – just put the food right on the tray of the highchair.
- Pull the highchair right up to the table – babies love to mimic and feel like part of the family.
- Eat outside in the summer, or get baby down to a diaper to eat – makes clean up so much easier!
- Just put a couple pieces of food on the tray at a time.
- Don’t freak out if baby gags! It’s their way of learning to manipulate solid foods.
If you have any questions about baby led weaning, the best way to make sure I see your question is to email me.