Looking for an alternative to the traditional spoon feeding route for your baby? This baby led weaning guide is a comprehensive guide as to what is baby led weaning and everything you need to know as you and your baby explore the world of solid foods.
Your Complete Guide to Baby Led Weaning
What Is Baby Led Weaning?
Baby led weaning. Baby led feeding. BLW. As a mom of a new baby you might be hearing these terms and wondering, “What is BLW?”
Baby led weaning, often referred to as BLW, is just how it sounds: an introduction of solid foods to your baby that is completely led by them! No spoon feeding. No mom helping. It is allowing your baby to figure out through hand eye coordination how to eat and what they like and don’t like through different textures and tastes.
When you think of baby led weaning, you might think, “Wow! This sounds a little messy!” And you are right it can be, but with the right baby led weaning essentials it can make baby led weaning much easier!
It may sound daunting to you at first and you may be wondering, “Is baby led weaning Safe” or is it even worth the mess and headache.
But there is a reason that so many parents have decided to try BLW with their babies. It can be a great option. So let’s dive into why baby led weaning!
What is baby led weaning?
Baby led weaning is a way of transitioning your infant from solely relying on milk to eating solid foods. It focuses on letting your baby take control of their eating and in doing so, boost some great skills.
It also skips the purees and goes straight to real, whole, solid foods. There are some really great baby led weaning food choices out there as well as baby led weaning foods to avoid. (we go over all of this in our Baby Led Weaning Foods post to help you with everything you need to know about that!)
What is baby led Feeding?
Baby led feeding focuses on autonomy and independence. After safely preparing food for a baby, they are able to use their curiosity, imagination, and developing motor skills to feed themselves with their fingers or with the best baby led weaning utensils.
This means that your baby is going to choose how, what, and how much they decide to eat.
If you are feeling nervous about baby led weaning, Don’t worry! Your baby is so smart. They have a natural ability to self regulate how much they need to eat. Sure you want to consider what age to start baby led weaning, but just watching your baby you have such a great intuition as a mom and dad as to when they are ready!
Those tiny hands are also learning and growing at record speed and are capable of getting a fair amount of food to their mouths, and when it misses you want to have the best baby led weaning bibs on hand to help clean up the mess.
A key to the success of baby led weaning is safety.
You want to make sure that you prepare baby led weaning foods properly. The prepared food needs to be soft enough for a baby’s gums to chew and you need to learn how to cut food for baby led weaning which includes cutting it the appropriate size for a baby’s hands to grab.
Once the food is prepared correctly, aside from likely being a messy experience, BLW is safe, helpful, and developmentally appropriate.
Why baby led weaning?
So many people are suggesting parents try out BLW despite it being a bit intimidating, so why baby led weaning? Here is why so many people are turning to baby led weaning.
There are so many benefits of baby led weaning! In fact, we have a whole post about the advantages of baby led weaning as well as one with all kinds of baby led weaning tips to help you on your baby led weaning journey!
The biggest benefit of baby led weaning is the health and development benefits for infants.
Why do baby led weaning?
Developmentally, BLW assists in the growth of fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and especially autonomy and independence.
Babies are not left to do things on their own very much, but letting them do this will give them so much confidence in their abilities to learn new things and support themselves.
Healthwise, babies that are baby led weaning are able to learn self-regulation quickly and effectively.
This means that they can rely on how their tiny bellies are feeling to know how much food they need. This is what sets apart BLW from traditional feeding. Parents tend to overfeed their infants because it’s such a guessing game about how much they need to eat, of course following a baby led weaning schedule is helpful, I loved relying on a good Baby led weaning planner to help track how much my baby was eating.
In addition, your baby will be eating more well-rounded meals with whole foods including. They have the opportunity to try so many new things that may not be available in a puree, like baby led weaning meat options.
With perks like this, BLW might be worth a shot!
Baby led weaning no teeth? Does it work?
Understandably, moms and dads can be hesitant to do baby led weaning when your baby has no teeth. I mean how does that even work, right?
Baby Led Weaning with No Teeth is no problem
But your baby’s gums are powerful. They can breakdown some pretty tough food. Of course, you shouldn’t hand over steak to your baby, but you can let them try so many things.
When your baby has no teeth you might feel even more nervous about BLW gagging and choking, but in our BLW choking and Gagging post, we go more in-depth about how to avoid BLW choking and safety issues with solid foods to be on the lookout for.
A good rule of thumb when it comes to how does baby led weaning work is, if you can use your lips to squish the food, they can easily use those strong gums to squish it too.
Once your baby gets teeth they are going to already be comfortable with those solids and you can ease into some foods that may need teeth to break down.
Guide to weaning baby, baby led weaning style
Weaning is a term that refers to the transition from milk to solids. Every baby starts solely relying on breastmilk or formula for their nutrition. Eventually, though, they need to be eating solid foods!
When to start baby led weaning is going to be up to you and when you feel like your baby is ready. Often babies begin trying and testing foods around, 6 months, but of course always discuss your concerns with your doctor first.
At this age, your baby is going to be developing still and won’t be ready for full meals. They are just going to be taking a few bites and that’s okay! Their little bellies are still so small.
As they begin to need more solids, they will also be developing their pincer grasp to allow them to pick up food easier! Their development will assist in the weaning process.
The beauty of baby led weaning is that you can start with whatever food you choose, sure there are some great baby led weaning first foods, but really you can try anything soft enough for your baby. It may be helpful to start with an especially soft and bland food to ease baby into the process.
The most important thing with getting started is to remember to let your baby be in control.
Resist the urge to push food into your baby’s mouth. Believe in their ability to get the food into their mouth!
Before you begin baby led weaning it might be helpful to get some tips on how to start baby led weaning.
Is baby led weaning safe?
Many new moms and dads out there wonder, “Is baby led weaning safe?”
The answer is simple.
Absolutely! Baby led weaning is a safe way to introduce solids to your baby and with all the benefits of baby led weaning you can’t go wrong!
But remember, when your baby is eating you need a trusted adult right near them to make sure they stay safe. Mom, Dad, or a trusted caregiver should always be with their baby while they are eating. A baby still needs their parents to cheer them on and to be there if they need help.
If your baby shows signs of choking, or you sense danger, you need to be there ready to help!
With a parent close by, and food prepared safely for little hands and no teeth, you should have no safety concerns about BLW.
How does baby led weaning work?
There are a couple of keys to getting baby led weaning to work for you and most importantly your baby.
- Let your baby take the lead when doing baby led weaning
- Find the right BLW products that work for baby
- Understand it will be messy
- Follow a BLW schedule when you first begin
- Keep a Baby Led Weaning Planner
- Know what foods to avoid when it comes to BLW
- Take advantage of Baby Weaning Finger Foods
Final thoughts on Why do baby led weaning
So why should you try BLW with your baby?
Baby led weaning is so fun.
Seeing your own child gain the confidence to try new things and improve their skills is exciting! This is why I did baby led weaning with all my kids.
It’s also good for their health and development. If done right, you can serve your baby some nutritious whole food meals and help them work on their independence, self-regulation, and motor skills right from the food you are already fixing for the rest of your family.
Your family will benefit from trying BLW. Another reason of why do baby led weaning is to save money by avoiding jarred baby food, you’ll enjoy more family meals together, and build family trust as you all grow together!
Have you tried Baby Led Weaning? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Are you in the Market for Great Baby Led Weaning Products? Check these Baby Led Weaning Products Out!
There are more great articles in our baby led weaning series! Check out these BLW posts:
Be sure to save this baby led weaning guide to Pinterest so you can find it easily!
Michele is a Family Life Educator. She is a mom to 5 kids and loves helping others strengthen their families! When she is not blogging she is spending time with her family and running around drinking Diet Coke trying to get everything done!