Baby Led Weaning (BLW)
Updated: Feb 27, 2021
We decided to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, that babies be exclusively breastfed until at least 6 months of age. Then we followed baby led weaning because it made so much sense to us.
Our doctors helped us cut through they hype about baby led weaning
While some parents are excited to start solid foods right at 6 months, we were waiting for her to show other signs that she was ready. We watched for her to show interest in food and eating (almost practicing to chew while watching us), looked for the pincer grasp, and wanted her to be able to sit up on her own for awhile (10 minutes or so). When all this came together, she was probably about 6.5 or 7 months old. Like anything with babies, there seems to be a wide range of when they may be ready for food. My friend with three children said for one kid, they had to hold him off until 5.5 months, and with the other two they weren’t really interested until 10 or 11 months old.
All along, our doctor had been helping us cut through the hype. For every parenting “expert” on one side, there is another “expert” who may say the exact opposite, and it can be overwhelming as new parents. She helped us figure out what was important to us… tune out the extra noise and listen to our own core values. We combined that with evidence based information that we would go over together to help guide our decisions. Therefore, when she told us about baby led weaning, I knew it was something we would consider!
3 things to know
Basically, what I remember her telling us at that appointment was:
When you see people spooning a puree into a sweet 3 month old baby’s mouth, you see it come back out, because of the still-present tongue-thrust reflex
If you think about the history of our race, blenders are a new invention, as are “baby food” manufacturers.
The baby chooses what to eat, how much, and how quickly
She recommended this book for more information. We were going to get it from the library, but it was a transfer and somehow we never ended up getting it. But, I’ve heard it’s a good quick read! Any questions we had, we asked other friends who were doing baby led weaning, looked on google, or discussed with our doctor. The only “rule” we followed was to make sure to introduce one food at a time, spaced out 3-7 days apart from the next. This turned out to be valuable for us, as our daughter had a reaction to eggs, and to spinach, and we wouldn’t have known the culprit if we had given her a bunch of foods, combined. She has since been able to eat spinach, and we haven’t re-tried eggs, as she had a severe reaction, we suspect FPIES (food protein induced enterocolitis syndrome).
Not only did baby led weaning make sense to us, but there are so many benefits.
Of course, the first being that you are following the baby’s cues for when and if to start with solid foods. Once you start, you are letting the baby decide how much food they are eating and how quickly they are cutting down their milk feedings.
You are also saving a lot of time and/or money as those little jars of organic baby food are expensive! Or, making your own batches of baby food purees can be time consuming.
We liked how she was eating when we were eating, and what we were eating. At first it was only one food item from our plate, and one meal a day. Now, it is entirely what we are eating! Family meals are important to us, so it was nice that she was right at the table with us. I also think this high chair (Stokke Tripp Trapp Chair) helps with that, I love that it includes her at the table, and it grows with her!
I’ve heard that eye-hand coordination may be improved with BLW, because they have had a lot of practice moving different types of food into and around their mouth, and when they’re a bit older, handling silverware.
Something else we’ve noticed is that she has never choked. A little bit of gagging here or there, which is normal, but we have never had an actual choking scare. I definitely think this is related to they way we have introduced foods to her, she learned to chew and THEN swallow.
It can be really messy! However, there were times when I spoon-fed her some of my smoothie (before we bought these smoothie pouches), or something I was eating like applesauce, and I found that to be pretty messy too. Plus, we have a dog which really helps with the floor clean up!
My Aunt recently bought us one of these smock bib things, and that has helped a lot with the mess factor too!
I have a lot of Instagram posts showing Caterina’s plate with baby led weaning ideas for older babies and toddlers, like the one below…so check me out on there @pharmersarah.
Next BLW post will be good first foods for baby.