Baby-led Weaning: The Basics
Blog post inspired by FAQ’s in my Facebook inbox.
Is your baby refusing spoonfuls of purees? Have you noticed your baby longingly watching you eat? Have you noticed your baby putting everything in her mouth? These are all god-given traits that point to your baby’s desire to feed themselves the baby-led weaning (BLW) way.
BLW is the best! Did it with Maisy, some of my day care kiddos and now I’m doing it with Penny. Penny is almost 8 months now so we’re still introducing new foods all the time but the general idea is to give your baby foods that you’re eating.
BLW starts your baby on solids at around 6 months – no cereals, no purees… nothing but breastmilk until 6 months of age. At 6 months if your baby can sit up, either supported or alone that means your baby is ready for solids. Biologically, this means that your baby’s digestive system is actually mature enough to work on solids. If your baby can’t even sit up supported, it might be wise to hold off until she is.
When Penny turned 6 months old she was sitting up supported. Until she sits on her own solidly the Bumbo is our meal time chair of choice. We do a lot of “stick shaped” steamed veggies because it’s the easiest for a 6 month old to manipulate. Cooked carrots, broccoli, and sweet potatoes are some of our favorites. Avocado, oatmeal, and scrambled eggs are also a awesome starters. At her age I only alter our meals so far as to try to cut veggies larger so they’re easier for her to grab onto, otherwise I just serve her what we’re eating and get to watch and see what she makes of it. She does a great job figuring all of it out! Babies are smart and know what they can handle so if we give her chili she usually mostly goes for chunks of sweet potato or tomatoes as the beans and smaller things will be too tough for her to pick up until she perfects the pinscher grip.
Beyond those starter tips it’s largely observation based, just watch your baby while they’re eating to find out what sizes, shapes, and consistencies of foods they are doing best with and just keep offering a little of what you’re eating at any meal. There are only three restrictions: no honey until 1 year, no cows milk (or other fluids except water) until 1 year (although other dairy products are fine), and keep salt intake to a minimum. Hard things requiring teeth like whole nuts and stuff you’ll obviously want to steer clear from until baby has the chompers to handle it.
Last, but not least, be aware of gagging and choking. Your baby will gag as they learn how to manage food. The reason why BLW and introducing solids in this way is the best time to do it is because a baby at 6 months have a built in safety mechanism, a gag reflex. This gag reflex is positioned very far forward in her mouth thus making it very unlikely your baby will manage to actually choke on anything (especially provided you have them sitting up, not reclined at all). But, it may freak you out a bit! Take a look at some YouTube videos and you’ll see the gagging is very common and, often, very short-lived in the learning process.
If you want more comprehensive information or more food suggestions check out the book Baby-Led Weaning or The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook – it’s the only resource I ever referenced, it’s perfect! And don’t be afraid to ask questions! I’m happy to help, I love talking about BLW.
Why Choose BLW
- Skip the puree’s; less mess, less fuss, less work
- Your baby naturally wants to feed themselves
- Sets your baby up to be a diverse eater – no picky eaters with BLW!
BLW Starter Foods Basic List
- Steamed veggies (cut in stick size is best)
- Freeze dried fruits and veggies
- Semi long, textured pasta
- Soft fruit: (bananas, kiwi, peaches, nectarines, plums, pears, mango, etc)
- Soft veggies such as avocado and cucumber (stick size)
- Scrambled eggs
- No honey until 1 year
- No cows milk or other fluids except water until 1 year (although other dairy products are fine)
- Keep salt intake to a minimum
- Hard things requiring teeth like whole nuts and stuff you’ll obviously want to steer clear from until baby has the chompers to handle it
Good luck! Have fun!