What is Baby Led Weaning? | Starting Solids | Erie PA & Meadville PA Parenting |

Your baby is quickly approaching the age to start solid foods. You've assumed you'll just start with pureed baby food, maybe even making your own. Then you see a Facebook thread about something called Baby Led Weaning. 

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So what is it? 

Baby Led Weaning, also known as baby led solids, is feeding your baby regular foods that are not pureed or chopped into tiny pieces. Many parents who choose this option never give any sort of pureed foods, rice cereals or oatmeal. You follow the baby's lead by allowing them to choose how much food they want to consume. 

What are the benefits?

  • Builds independence
  • Allows baby to try many textures and flavors. Some say this will lead to less picky eaters as they grow older. 
  • Simple to do (just feed baby what you're eating).
  • Healthy eating habits established. The baby will not overeat and is able to pace themselves as they need throughout the meal. 
  • Gives confidence. Babies are constantly learning. Allowing them to play and learn through food grows their confidence as they learn more and more about their surroundings. 
  • If breastfeeding, BLW is a great option as it allows the introduction of solids to be gradual. To protect the breastfeeding relationship, it is important to not overfeed solids.

What are the downsides of baby led weaning? 

  • It gets messy! The messiness contributes to the learning experience for the child but can still be overwhelming for parents.
  • Not consuming a well rounded diet and getting necessary nutrients. 
  • Your baby may gag. 

When do we start? 

The leading health organizations now reccomend waiting to start any foods except breastmilk or formula until your baby has reached 6 months old.  There are also other developmental signs of readiness that you should look for including: 

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Is this for breastfed babies? What about formula fed babies? 

Any baby is able to do baby led weaning, regardless of your infant milk feeding choice.

I'm terrified of my baby choking. 

Many experts and a recent study agree that baby led weaning has no more risk of choking than feeding pureed foods. Baby led weaning requires the baby to feed themselves, without help from the care provider or parent. This helps them to learn quickly just how much food they can handle in their mouth. You can find more info on this here and here

My baby doesn't have teeth. Can I start once they have all the other signs of readiness? 

Yes! Baby led weaning does not require the baby to have teeth. In fact, gnawing on foods is a great way to get those pearly whites to come through the gums! 

What foods should I start with? 

There are so many great options! Many parents start with foods like avocados, spears of meats like chicken breasts or steaks, banana, cooked carrots, apple slices or cucumbers. Items that are long and spear-like work well as baby can hold it in their hand and gnaw on the other end.  

Whatever way you choose to feed your baby is a great choice for you and your family. Baby led weaning isn't the best choice for every family. Have you tried BLW with one of your babies? Tell us your family's way in the comments!