A Guide to Baby-Led Weaning
3 min read
With so much information out there, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to weaning, so we’re here to help!
If you are considering getting into baby-led weaning with your little one, we’ve put together a basic guide to shine some light on the matter.
Baby-led weaning is by no means the only weaning method or a necessity. Every little one is different so there’s no need to force the issue if you know it’s not going to work for you!
What is Baby-Led Weaning?
You’ve probably seen the term on all the parenting and recipe sites but what are they actually referring to? We’re here to help you get to the bottom of it!
Simply put, baby-led weaning, or BLW, is a method of feeding your little one where they take charge of putting the food in their mouth, rather than relying on being spoon-fed by you. In this method, finger food is often offered in thick, soft pieces that are easy to hold and swallow.
How to Know When Your Baby is Ready
You’ll know by now that even in these early stages, your littlest family member is an individual with a distinct personality. This individuality also applies to development; every baby will be different.
Generally, around six months is the age that most babies will be ready to start on their first foods. However, using your baby’s age is not always an exact guideline for when baby-led weaning should start; your baby themselves will guide the process.
Possible signs that your baby is ready to start trying baby-led weaning include the ability to stay in a sitting position while holding their head steady and co-ordinating their eyes, hands and mouth so they are looking at food, picking it up and putting it in their mouth by themselves. Swallowing food rather than spitting it back out is also a sign that they may be ready to try BLW.
Possible signs that your baby isn’t quite ready to start the weaning process include pushing food out of their mouth with their tongue. Although this can be alarming at first, don’t worry! This reaction will usually disappear between four and six months. If your baby also struggles to pick up chunks of food, they probably aren’t ready to enjoy finger foods just yet; but it’s okay, weaning development is a process, you’ll get there!
To encourage your little one to start picking food up, keep offering lots of soft foods that are a similar size to adult fingers so they can fully grasp it in their hands. Focus on role modelling and keep showing your baby how food can be picked up!
Why Consider Baby-Led Weaning?
When babies have control over what they are putting in their mouth, they are more likely to start eating intuitively from the beginning of the process, meaning they will learn to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Getting your little one involved in the feeding process can help improve their fine motor skills while also supporting the development of hand-eye coordination, chewing skills and dexterity.
In many cases, baby-led weaning is easier and more convenient for you, the parent, which is always a plus! Many weaning foods can be modified from meals you are already making for yourself and other, bigger members of the family. BLW can be an excellent option for busy mums and dads who don’t have loads of time to spend preparing separate meals.
Again, it should be noted that this is not your only option, and there are plenty of recipes out there that aren’t focused on BLW but will still save you some time in the kitchen!
BLW may also not be the best option for all babies. Babies with developmental delays may benefit from being introduced to solids more traditionally.
Some babies will prefer being spoon-fed initially but others will take to BLW readily. Figuring out what will work best for you and your baby is all part of the process; there is no cut-and-dried method for everyone!
How to Get Started
You and your baby will likely develop your own routine and approach when it comes to baby-led weaning. Here are just a few tips to try to get the most out of BLW.
- Eat together to encourage your baby to be social and become more involved in mealtimes. Let them try things from your own plate and encourage their curiosity!
- Invest in a comfortable and stable highchair to install where your family eats; bring your little one and their chair to table and get them involved. Highchairs with removable trays can be very handy!
- Include a variety of foods and textures. Keep the meals interesting to expose your baby to a range of flavours.
- Try to make mealtimes fun and enjoyable. Get your baby involved by letting them play with their food and experiment with the textures or tastes they enjoy best.
Some Foods to Start With
Some great foods to try when first starting to tickle your little one’s taste buds include:
• Steamed broccoli
• Sweet potato
• Scrambled Eggs
We’ve got a collection of fabulous recipes that you can dip into when looking to excite your little one’s palate and help encourage play at mealtimes! Why not take a look at our Thai green chicken curry recipe or seeded savoury cheesy biscuit recipe!
Here at Babease, we are dedicated to supporting your baby’s development and happiness. For more tips, take a look at our weaning advice section where we try to answer some more burning questions surrounding the topic.