When we think of weaning, what usually comes to mind is weaning your baby from breastfeeding or formula feeding. However, weaning in the United Kingdom, which is where the term began, means to add complementary or solid foods to a baby’s daily diet. Baby Led Weaning, sometimes referred to simply as BLW, is letting babies feed themselves!
The current recommendation from the Academy of Pediatrics is to start solid foods at 6 months of age or when a baby shows development signs of being ready for them. These signs are:
- Your baby can sit up on his or her own
- Your baby uses hand to scoop up, pick and hold the food
- Your baby starts to bring his or her hand to mouth
- Your baby no longer shows tongue thrust where he or she pushes food out of the mouth with the tongue
You may be thinking, “Well, when I start solid foods, I’ll use baby food and start off by feeding my baby with a spoon. How is my little one going to hold a spoon?” Here are some ideas that may entice you to try BLW instead of always feeding with the traditional spoon. Use soft, easy to grab foods and cut them into long strips or easy to grab pieces. Place them in front of baby within easy reach and watch your little one enjoy self-feeding just like mom and dad do at mealtime. Foods you can try include are bananas, avocado, cooked carrots, sweet potato, pieces of bread cut into long strips with peanut butter (yes, peanut butter if there is no family history of peanut allergy).
For some great ideas on how to go about baby led weaning and lots of different foods to try out, click here to watch a great video done by two registered dietitians. Although this video focuses on plant-based foods and promotes a book on BLW, you’ll find it informative and worth watching for some fun tips.
BLW is gaining in popularity because it promotes development of fine motor skills, family dining, a healthy relationship with good foods, and letting your baby have control over what he or she eats by learning signals about being full or not interested. It’s not for everyone, but many of the suggestions can be used along with spoon feeding.
BLW is often messy at first, but so much fun to watch your little one being cute and happy learning about eating and good nutrition. I hope the process is fun for you and your little one! And, as always, let me know if you have any questions!