How to Start Baby-Led Weaning
6 min read
Weaning is an incredibly exciting time for you and your little one! If you’re interested in baby-led-weaning, our guide is full of helpful advice.
Every baby’s weaning journey is slightly different, so when and how your little one discovers new foods might be unique. The main thing to remember is not to rush – allow your little one to enjoy exploring new flavours and textures.
If you’re looking for support on the weaning journey, Babease is full of help and advice. In this article, we look at baby-led weaning, when to start and how you can make the most of these early stages for your budding foodie!
What is Baby-Led Weaning?
Sometimes abbreviated to BLW, baby-led-weaning is simply about offering food to your baby and allowing them to feed themselves.
The weaning journey in terms of the foods tried and development of textures is mostly the same, but the method of feeding is slightly different.
The Benefits of Baby-Led Weaning
The main reason why baby-led weaning has become popular is because it allows your little to get hands-on with their food – literally! Your baby can choose what they eat and when they’ve had enough, and can also explore more tastes and textures at their own pace.
Some believe baby-led weaning helps little foodies to develop a deeper connection with food. It can also help with independence and developing coordination.
Is Baby-Led Weaning Right for My Little One?
While there are many potential benefits to the BLW approach, it is but one of many options available.
There is no right or wrong approach to weaning. What’s important is that your baby is introduced to a wide range of tastes and textures – the food matters more than the method, so do whatever feels most comfortable.
When to Start Baby-Led Weaning
Public Health England recommends not starting weaning with solid foods until around six months, as this allows your baby’s body to develop to handle solids. However, every little one is different, and some may start weaning after four months.
Baby-led weaning is recommended to start at the same time as traditional weaning, so it’s recommended that you wait until your baby is around six months of age.
However, BLW does involve some different capabilities for your little one when compared to spoon-feeding. Therefore, there are some things to look out for before starting baby-led weaning. These include:
- Being able to stay upright in a sitting position, holding their head steady.
- Co-ordinating their hands, eyes and mouth so they can see and hold food.
- Swallowing food instead of pushing it out of their mouth.
Foods to Consider for Baby-Led Weaning
While your little one will try many of the same foods and textures as traditional weaning, the way they’re served will be different. You’ll want to give your baby foods that they can easily hold, chew and even make a mess with – BLW is all about exploring!
When starting BLW, one of your go-to foods will be vegetable sticks. Veggies can be cut into thin, clutch-able strips and roasted, baked or boiled. The key is to cook them enough so they’re easy to chew, but not too long that they become floppy or difficult for little hands to hold.
Some of the most popular vegetables for the start of baby-led weaning include:
- Boiled broccoli sprouts
- Mashed sweet potato
- Roasted butternut squash
- Boiled carrot slices
Fruit is a great snack for little ones! With so many different tastes, there’s a world of exciting foods for your little one to discover.
At the beginning of baby-led-weaning, it can help to choose soft fruits. A popular option is banana, as your little one can have fun mushing it in their hand or sucking on a slice. As they become more used to weaning, you can try introducing them to new textures, like apple slices or cut orange segments.
One thing to remember is to slice all fruits. Even small things like grapes can potentially cause issues with choking, so it’s best to cut these to make them more manageable. So long as you watch over your little one, they will happily enjoy exploring new tastes and textures!
Purees and Porridge
While baby-led weaning is all about holding and self-feeding food, that doesn’t mean you can’t switch to more traditional foods! Classic options like vegetable purees and porridge allow your little one to explore food in different ways so should still be considered.
Purees and similar foods are great because they can be as smooth as needed for the beginning of the weaning journey. Once your little foodie has more experience, you can then add lumps so they learn about different textures.
Pures and porridges can also be part of baby-led weaning! Simply allow your little one to hold the spoon and feed themselves.
There are so many other great foods you can explore with your little one during the weaning process – the world is your oyster! Here are some other favourites for the first stage of weaning:
- Eggs – omelette is a great finger food for little ones.
- Seeds – these can be crushed or ground to add new tastes and textures to food.
- Beans and peas – these are a great source of protein and another exciting texture to explore.
Advice for Parents Starting Baby-Led Weaning
Remember, during the early stages of weaning, most of their nutrients will continue to come from milk feeds. Therefore, don’t worry if your little one doesn’t eat much. Let them explore a wide range of tastes and textures at their own pace.
Baby-led weaning will be messy. The best thing to do is to prepare for and embrace any chaos! Be enthusiastic about your little one’s food and continue to encourage them, even if they’re mushing their food everywhere. Your baby is exploring in their own way and will have a better relationship with food as a result.
We hope this guide will give you the confidence to embark on baby-led weaning for yourself! Remember, though, that baby-led weaning is just one option, and if you choose a more traditional method for your little one, that’s perfectly fine!
If you are looking for more information about weaning, our blog is full of helpful advice.